UPDATE: We have some great news! Global Animal readers have helped us spread the word about California’s irresponsible Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards, and your strong voices of opposition have yielded results. Senator Fran Pavley sent out an announcement yesterday in which she states that she decided to sign a letter asking for the resignation of Mr. Richards. 
The Senator wrote, “Although Mr. Richards’s hunting activity took place in Idaho, where the hunting of mountain lion is legal, I feel strongly that Mr. Richards showed bad judgment in this situation. I chose to sign on to and circulate a letter, along with a group of other legislators, asking for Mr. Richards resignation because I not only think he displayed poor judgment in shooting a mountain lion in Idaho, but I am also concerned with his commitment to managing the state’s resources in a way that protects wildlife. Since his appointment, Richards has consistently voted against some important policies and regulations, including: opposing the regional plans for the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act, and his opposition to broadening the ban on the use of nontoxic ammunition – designed to protect the endangered California condor.”
The announcement also mentions that if Dan Richards still refuses to resign, another letter has been sent to Governor Brown, by speaker John Perez and Assembly member Hueso, 79th District, asking that Richards not be reappointed to his post. We thank all Global Animals for your work and commitment to this issue.


Sonia Horon, Global Animal

The recent outrageous behavior of Daniel Richards led readers to flood websites and sign petitions asking for his immediate resignation. The head of the California Fish and Game Commission crossed state lines into Idaho last month to kill a mountain lion, an act that is illegal in California. Instead of graciously appeasing Californians and their wish to have him step down, Richards decided to go on a media rampage. He lashed out against animal advocates who opposed the killing of cougars, referring to them as “enviro-terrorists”.
This is the president of the Fish and Game Commission of California, a state where hunting and killing mountain lions is illegal. Photo credit: www.coldsplinters.com

Many media outlets exposed the cougar incident, resulting in a wave of criticism. An official complaint was sent to the state’s ethics commission on the amount of money Richards paid to hunt and kill the mountain lion. In a letter published in Mercury News, Richards fired back to state lawmakers who asked for his dismissal, writing, [quote]”While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100 percent legal activity outside of California, or anyone else’s for that matter, is none of your business.”[/quote]

So let’s try to wrap our head around this. Richards, a government-appointed civil servant whose salary Californians pay, and whose job it is to be a responsible steward of wildlife, believes that him killing a mountain lion is none of our business. Clearly, we have a problem.

Richards’ escapade might not have been as legal as he would like us to believe. While the hunting of cougars is permitted in the state of Idaho, accepting any gift exceeding the value of $420 dollars as a state employee is not. And it seems that Richards may have done just that when he allegedly accepted a guided hunting tour, which runs at the price of $6,800, for free. There’s a developing pattern here for blatant disregard of California and its laws.

Richards, who seems to enjoy media attention almost as much as slaughtering wildlife, stated on a radio show that there is “zero” chance of him stepping down from his appointed post. Therefore we must take it in our hands and remove this out-of-touch-with-California man. Please continue your inspirational activism by contacting California legislators until this guy is no longer in office.

Contact Jared Huffman – Chairman of Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 3120

Sacramento, CA 94249-0006

(916) 319-2006

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  1. NEWS FLASH: Richards is NOT going to resign, and the legislature is NOT going to remove him. It’s possible, though, that a majority of the five commissioners may remove him from the presidency at the May 23-24 meeting in Monterey, though he would remain on the commission. His term expires in January 2013. Mr. Rogers’ perfectly legal lion hunt in Idaho should have no bearing on his commission duties in California.

    That said, all this time and effort could have been far more productively spent. And for the record, the commissioners (all appointed by the Governor) do NOT receive a salary. They meet 10 times annually at various (mostly) two-day meetings around the state. They are reimbursed for travel expenses, and receive a $100 per day stipend. This often thankless job requires many, many hours of complex work. It’s also clear that, judging from the many hundreds of comments I’ve seen to the 500+ articles in print, few if any have ever attended a commission meeting. I’d suggest people get involved, and have a voice. (See the commission’s website for schedule, agendas, etc. Or watch the meetings on the live webcam.)

    Here’s an excerpt from a letter to the editor I sent to some 35 newspapers around the state (printed in the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, the OAKLAND TRIBUNE, THE MONTCLARION, and elsewhere).


    “All the sanctimonious hand-wringing over Fish & Game Commissioner Dan Richards’ Idaho mountain lion hunt is inappropriate and irresponsible. I, too, deplore trophy hunting, but that hunt was perfectly legal. Let’s move on.

    The efforts to remove Richards (a registered Republican), led by a gang of legislators (Democrats all) and a bunch of my fellow animal/environmental activists who should know better, are misguided and counterproductive. Nor should we forget two other highly-qualified commissioners who were forced to resign in recent years for political reasons, Cindy Gustafson and Judd Hanna. They should be reappointed.

    I’ve been attending commission meetings for 20+ years. Though I don’t always agree with Richards, I’ve invariably found him to be thoughtful, honest, fair, articulate and willing to speak his mind. Would that all commissioners shared those traits. Richards’ term expires in January 2013. He should be allowed to finish it without the sniping……”

    As for Senator Pavley’s complaints, it was not only Mr. Richards who opposed the #1 MLPA option favored by Gov. Schwarzenegger. That option was/is also opposed by the State Game Wardens Association, many recreational and sport fishermen, several Indian tribes, and a goodly number of small businesses who depend upon the sea for a living. Richards was also the strongest voice on the commission in support of the import ban on non-native frogs and turtles for the live food markets. In short, be careful what you wish for. We could do far worse than Richards (and have).

    TRY THIS: There are presently two vacancies on the commission. (The terms of both Jim Kellogg and Richard Rogers expired months ago.) Kellogg (who claims that lead shot in the environment is not a problem for either condors or other wildlife) has been there 10+ years. Time for some new faces. WRITE TO GOV. JERRY BROWN, THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA 95814, and urge him to appoint two new, highly-qualified members to the commission ASAP.

    I’d be happy to correspond with anyone on this. Civilly, of course.

    Eric Mills, coordinator
    email – [email protected]