Conservationists, animal rights activists and 40 Democratic lawmakers have called for the resignation of California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards because he killed a cougar on a hunting trip in Idaho.
His critics are indeed outraged, and that hot criticism is up for some major debate.
Richards shot and killed a mountain lion on a recent hunting trip in Idaho, and has been receiving heavy fire himself ever since. Western Outdoor News posted a photo of him smiling with the dead animal in his arms, and quoted him saying, “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”
The problem is that killing a mountain lion has been illegal in California since 1971, and critics say he isn’t fit to lead the commission because he doesn’t support California voters’ belief that mountain lions should not be hunted at all.
In order to get Richards removed, a majority of lawmakers in both houses would have to vote in support of ousting him.
Yesterday, Richards started publicly defending himself:
“Do you really think a California commissioner is actually obligated to follow California laws across these United States? Really?”
Richards wrote that and more on Fish and Game letterhead in a two-page letter to the Legislature, the governor and other state officials:
“Did I try to change California’s laws subversively? Did I encourage anyone to circumvent our rules and regulations? … While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100 percent legal activity outside California, or anyone else’s for that matter, is none of your business.”
His letter went on to say that while it was purely a trophy kill, he did, in fact, eat mountain lion, and there was “ZERO” chance that he would consider resignation.
A group of 11 Republican senators sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg, D-Sacramento, yesterday, in support of Richards. The letter said Richards had every right to shoot the cougar, and compared his criticism to a “modern day witch hunt.”
Richards’ critics, like Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, fired right back:
“He is the president of the California Fish and Game Commission, which is charged with managing the laws against the killing of mountain lions. Imagine if the (national) drug czar went to a jurisdiction where marijuana was legal and then posted an Internet picture showing him smoking marijuana. He would be fired before he returned to his office.”
We’ll keep you up to date on how this pans out. A resolution to oust Richards could be on the Assembly floor by next Thursday.