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New law is fallout from state official's killing of mountain lion

September 27, 2012 |  8:21 am

GetprevThe fallout continues over the killing of a mountain lion in Idaho by the then-head of the California Fish and Game Commission last winter.

Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights) led the legislative calls for the resignation of Daniel W. Richards, who was then president of the state panel. Richards refused to step down, noting that although sports hunting of mountain lions is illegal in California, it is allowed in Idaho.

Now,  Gov. Jerry  Brown has signed a bill by Hueso that revamps the Fish and Game Commission rules to make its members more accountable to the public.

The measure, AB 2609, changes how the commission elects its president, requiring an annual election by a concurrent vote of at least three members and prohibiting the selection based on seniority. Richards, who owns a commercial real estate firm, was elected president on a 2-0 vote when the panel's policy was to provide the presidency to the panelist with the most seniority.

The new law signed by the governor also requires the panel to adopt a code of conduct, and sets minimum qualifications for appointees, including a "a demonstrated interest and background in wildlife and natural resources management.’’

Richards, an appointee of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from Upland, was replaced as president earlier this year. He declined comment on the bill's signing Wednesday.  Hueso said in a statement that his bill "will ensure we have competent, ethical, principled commissioners serving our community.''

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: California Fish and Game Commissioner Daniel W. Richards listens to public comments during a commission meeting in Riverside earlier this year. Credit: David Bauman / Riverside Press-Enterprise.

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