Fish and Game commissioner draws flak for killing mountain lion
The chairman of the California Fish and Game Commission is facing calls for his ouster after he hunted and killed a mountain lion in Idaho and posed for a picture holding the dead animal.
Chairman Daniel W. Richards of Upland declined to comment on the controversy when reached by telephone at his real estate office, but a letter to him signed by 40 Democratic members of the state Assembly is calling for him to resign.
"Your actions have raised serious questions about whether you respect the laws of the people of California and whether you are fit to adequately enforce those laws,'' said the letter, written by Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights).
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom noted that California voters banned the sports hunting of mountain lions in 1990 when they approved Proposition 117. "Unfortunately, recent events make it clear that you cannot continue in any capacity on the commission," Newsom wrote this week to Richards, a member of the National Rifle Assn.
The photo of Richards smiling and holding the dead mountain lion he shot appeared on the website of Western Outdoor News, which quoted him as saying he shot the animal on Flying B Ranch in Northern Idaho. "I’m glad its legal in Idaho," the website quoted Richards as saying.
The ranch charges customers $6,800 to go on a seven-day guided hunt for a mountain lion assisted by tracking dogs, according to its brochure.
The Western Outdoor News website and the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance have stepped up to defend Richards, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Mr. Richards' legal hunting activities, while in Idaho, have no bearing on the execution of his duties in the protection of California's wildlife,'' the alliance said in a statement.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: A mountain lion photographed in the Santa Monica Mountains. Credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area