CLEARFIELD -- Police are investigating threats made against Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, over controversial legislation he is proposing regarding the handling of feral animals.
But based on evidence gathered by police, the threats do not appear to be coming from animal-rights groups opposing the bill, police say.
"The threats have been received through e-mail communication with Representative Oda in the last few days," Clearfield Police Sgt. Kyle Jeffries said Friday.
"We are hoping that we can get information out to the public when it is OK to speak your mind and when that free speech may cross the line to a criminal action," he said.
Oda could not be reached for comment.
Police believe the e-mail communications Oda received meet the elements of Utah criminal statute 76-8-104 addressing threats to influence official or political action, Jeffries said.
A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if he or she threatens any harm to a public servant, party officials or a voter with a purpose of influencing one's action, decision, opinion, recommendation, nomination, vote or other exercise of discretion.
"We intend to file the cases with the Davis County Attorney's Office," Jeffries said.
"We are aware Clearfield police have commenced an investigation," said Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings.
He said that was all he could say on the matter.
The Animal Advocacy Alliance condemns threatening anyone, especially public figures, and feels there are certainly better, more appropriate and legal ways to communicate dissatisfaction with any proposed measure, said Anne Davis, executive director of Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah.
"We are still actively encouraging our supporters to send Representative Oda and their own representatives e-mails and to make phone calls expressing their dissatisfaction with the proposed amendment to (the law)," Davis said.
"The alliance predicts the bill will ultimately fail due to public outcry and inherent problems," she said.
The hope is that Oda withdraws the amendment before the legislative session convenes next week.
With House Bill 210, Oda has proposed to change animal-cruelty laws to allow the killing of feral animals, pests and rodents.
Oda said he advocates following the American Veterinary Medical Association's guidelines for humane euthanasia. Those guidelines include shooting, blows to the head and decapitation, but they emphasize that the killings should be done by those with proper training and well-maintained equipment.
Oda's proposed legislation has set off a political storm with animal-rights organizations saying the bill revokes the protection cats are receiving.
But based on evidence police have gathered, it is not animal-rights groups that are contacting Oda, but individuals expressing their concerns "in a manner in which we believe they have broken the law," Jeffries said.
As of Friday afternoon, police had yet to determine whether the individuals making the threats live within the district Oda represents, Jeffries said.
"We just don't want it to continue with any other citizens," he said.
Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, whose Senate district overlaps a portion of the House district Oda represents, said, as a longtime elected leader, he has had people yell at him and point a finger at him as a result of decisions he had made, but he has always been able to work through the issues with those individuals.
Despite the threats made to Oda, and the recent killings at the political rally in Tucson, Ariz., Stevenson said, he does not feel any more threatened being a public official.