California antis roaring for Richards’ head

By Barbara Baird writes Realtree Outdoor News

Words like sanctimonious and self-righteous and who-in-the-wide-world-of-the-outdoors do you think you are, California, came to mind when I saw a clip from Channel 7 news, an ABC affiliate out of San Francisco, featuring the story about the president of the California Fish and Game Commission and his recent out-of-state mountain lion hunt. 

Dan Richards, a Republican from San Bernardino County, went on a mountain lion hunt in Idaho recently and Western Outdoor News posted a photo of him on its website. Of course, he is holding a dead mountain lion. And, gasp, he is smiling. As of today, the post has been pulled off the site.

According to Channel 7, anti-hunting groups are now hunting Richards and hoping for his termination as commissioner. Jennifer Fearing, of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “It’s sort of equivalent to  ... an appointed drug czar heading off to a foreign country where drug use is legal, participating and posting pictures of it on the Internet.” 

For the record, Californians passed Proposition 117 in 1999, making it illegal to hunt mountain lions. One of the main forces behind the passage of this proposition, the Mountain Lion Foundation, has come out roaring and calling for Richards’ firing immediately. A spokesperson said, “Californians sort of trust the fish and game department and their commission to be the protectors of our wildlife resources and this person is showing that he really doesn’t care.” 

Bill Gaines, of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, weighs in with common sense, and also, does not use the words sort of in his defense of Richards. He said, “What Mr. Richards did in Idaho was neither illegal, nor was it immoral. Legal hunting activity in Idaho of mountain lions has no bearing on his ability to act as a fish and game commissioner in the best interest of California’s wildlife resource.” 

At the end of this segment, the announcer calmly states that a mountain lion wandered into someone’s backyard in Los Altos Hills recently. The homeowner's German shepherd chased the lion up a tree. Authorities showed up and encouraged everyone to stay calm, until the lion got bored and went back into the mountains. 

Should Richards be fired because of his hunt? 

Do you think Californians are trying to impose their propositions on other states?