Commissioner’s lion kill point of contention at Riverside meeting

RIVERSIDE – Animal rights activists and a large number of supporters of California Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards turned out in Riverside today to voice both criticism and praise for the Inland Empire resident, who came under fire for killing a mountain lion during a hunting trip to Idaho.

Among the groups that called for Richards’ resignation during the commission’s meeting at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa was Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals.

“I am a former law enforcement officer,” LCA President Chris DeRose said during the public comments section of the forum. “I have firearms. I am an avid outdoorsman, skeet and trap shooter. I have hunted for 16 years — with a camera — so that other people could have a chance to see these magnificent animals.”

LCA staff and representatives from the nonprofit Mountain Lion Foundation, however, were outnumbered by Richards’ backers, including members of area gun clubs and hunting organizations. The majority of speakers defended the commissioner’s right to engage in recreational hunting.

One attendee, Doug Elliott, suggested the drive to oust Richards was politically motivated — Richards is a Republican and appointee of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — saying the hunting excursion had been “blown way out of proportion.”

Richards declined to respond to any of the comments.

A widely circulated photograph from Western Outdoor News of a smiling Richards alternately holding and kneeling next to his kill on a snow bank at the Flying B Ranch prompted an avalanche of criticism last month from activists and some lawmakers.

Cougar hunting has been prohibited in California for two decades following voter passage of Proposition 117.

On Feb. 22, Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, called on the commissioner to resign, saying Richards no longer had the ”credibility to hold such an important representative position.”

“Not only are your actions unbecoming of a top-ranking state wildlife official, but they do a disservice to responsible, ethical hunters who respect the animals they hunt and are committed to wildlife conservation,” Hueso wrote in a letter signed by 39 other legislators. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has joined the anti-Richards chorus.

The 59-year-old San Bernardino County resident fired back in a written response last week, telling Hueso that his outing in Idaho was “100 percent legal.”

“While I respect those who may not approve of hunting, or in particular mountain lion hunting, I also would ask you and them to respect my right and those afforded everyone who travels to other states to participate lawfully under those state’s laws and wildlife management plans,” Richards wrote.

His term on the commission ends in January.

Activists expected to confront Calif. Fish and Game Commission president today over killing of mountain lion

RIVERSIDE – Animal rights activists and others fuming over California Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards’ killing of a mountain lion while on a hunting trip to Idaho are expected today to confront him during a meeting in Riverside.

A widely circulated photograph from Western Outdoor News of a smiling Richards alternately holding and kneeling next to his kill on a snow bank at the Flying B Ranch prompted an avalanche of criticism last month from activists and some lawmakers.

Cougar hunting has been prohibited in California for two decades following voter passage of Proposition 117.

Activists are expected to address the commission — and Richards himself — when it convenes at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in downtown Riverside at 8:30 a.m. Members of Last Chance for Animals say they will be asking him point- blank him to resign.

The meeting agenda includes more than a dozen items for review. The forum begins, however, with an invitation for the public to speak on any matter not on the agenda.

On Feb. 22, Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, called on the commissioner to resign, saying Richards no longer had the ”credibility to hold such an important representative position.”

”Not only are your actions unbecoming of a top-ranking state wildlife official, but they do a disservice to responsible, ethical hunters who respect the animals they hunt and are committed to wildlife conservation,” Hueso wrote in a letter signed by 39 other legislators. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has joined the anti-Richards chorus.

Richards, 59, fired back a written response last week, telling Hueso that his hunting excursion to Idaho was ”100 percent legal.”

”While I respect those who may not approve of hunting, or in particular mountain lion hunting, I also would ask you and them to respect my right and those afforded everyone who travels to other states to participate lawfully under those state’s laws and wildlife management plans,” Richards said.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Humane Society of the United States are among the groups demanding that Richards step down.

33 Responses to "Commissioner’s lion kill point of contention at Riverside meeting"

  1. dan   March 7, 2012 at 8:13 am

    The man did nothing illegal. Mountain lions are not endangered. Here in CA they are protected, but not in Idaho.

    The commission only has 5 members, only 2 of which are hunters and fisherman. If he leaves the commission, is replacement has known to ties to animal RIGHTS groups. Seems to me that a person that works on a fish and game commission ought to hunt or fish.

    This is hugh for CA because it has indirect economic impacts for all of us, especially here in Fallbrook. Remember that environmental groups where the driving force for shutting down 1/3 of SOCAL’s water because to the Delta Smelt. That hurt us in Fallbrook and turned the San Joqauin valley into a dust bowl.

    I can’t imagine how bad it’ll be if a HSUS sponsored person gets to be the president of the Fish and Game Commission. It’ll mean a non-government animal rights (not animal welfare) group, based in DC, will have gained control of this states fish and game and will be able to influence CA’s economic future.

  2. observant   March 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

    It would be nice if people were more concerned about unsustainable debt, GMO’s, fracking, or credit default swaps.

    These must be the same nutcases that felt the quarry would hurt the vineyards in Temecula.

  3. Cranky   March 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

    These people need to get a life. They are just using this as another excuse to bring their true agenda of wanting to ban all legal hunting into the spot light. The same number of mountain lions are still killed in California as there always has been. Now, instead of the State generating income from license and tag fees, they pay State Game Wardens to do it for depredation. Fish and Game is supported more by hunters and fishermen than any do-gooder animal rights groups, and Dan Richards represents their interests on the F&G Commission. He maintains more credibility with the people who actually support Fish and Game with their dollars. There is no way he should resign for partaking in a legal activity. That would be like asking a Democratic Assemblyman to resign for going to Vegas and gambling or hiring a prostitute. You don’t think that ever happens? Both of those activities are illegal in California, and are much more questionable activities than hunting and eating an animal. Prop 117 was just another example of people voting on an issue based on emotion rather than economics or common sense. Speaking of which, how is that high speed train working out for all of you?

  4. Net Benefits   March 7, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I think its stupid that this so much of an outcry.

    I find it hard to believe causes that something like hunting animals is looked upon by some people as morally wrong. An animal is completely different then a person. Don’t most of us eat meat?
    Idaho is a completely different state were it is legal to hunt mountain lions and someone who takes advantage of that fact is not at fault. In addition, all states have regulations regarding how many animals hunters take each year. Careful studies are conducted to insure that no animal populations are threatened. Mountain Lion populations are in no way threatened by hunting in Idaho and if they ever were hunting would be stopped. I do not advocate unregulated hunting at all. That is how all the buffaloes were killed in early America. Regulated hunting on the other hand has never harmed a species of animals.
    If anything I see this as a credibility boost to Mr. Richards. Being President of the Fish and Game Commission means that he deals directly with hunting laws. Being a participant in lawful hunting just means he understands his job that much more.

  5. randy7547   March 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Commissioner Richards was perfectly within his rights to go to Idaho and hunt there legally. Obviously, they have too many Mountail Lions in Idaho and want to control them. According to the Unites States Constitution’s 10th Ammendment the States have the right to make such laws. I don’t think HSUS or any other organization should press for his removal. This kind of insanity needs to stop.

  6. Fact Checker   March 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I find it interesting that "animal rights" people have no room for compromise in their ideals about man’s interaction with nature. I have known many ardent protectors of wildlife and the natural world who see LEGAL and sanctioned hunting as good stewardship. It seems to me animal protection groups refuse to even consider how useful licensed hunting is one part of an overall natural resource management plan. I hope the president of the Fish and Game Commission does not fold under the pressure.

  7. De Luz Neighbor   March 8, 2012 at 1:10 am

    CDFG is a law enforcement agency. Richards is the head of that agency.

    The California electorate voted for and passed prop 117 in 1990. The mandate was clear and there was no ambiguity. Trophy hunting of Felis concolor in California was outlawed.

    *All* of our voting constituents deserve and expect a higher level of decorum from their law enforcement officials.

    Richards, to many, demonstrated a callous disregard for the mandate that he’s been appointed to uphold. The act of traveling to another state for the sole purpose of bagging a trophy mountain lion was an unfortunate decision on his part. The thoughtless posting of the photo compounded the problem and brought it to the public’s attention.

    This act has brought scrutiny to CDFG where there was no scrutiny before. It has pitted sportsman against environmentalist and has created discourse between the two where there was once agreement.

    Richards is a poster-child for trophy hunting and a liability for responsible hunters. His defiant reply as quoted in this article demonstrates his skewed perspective.

    If Richards does not not resign, his presence will continue to unite those people and organizations that his activities have offended. He’s demonstrated distain for a law that he’s been appointed to enforce. He has breached our trust.

  8. Lee Chew   March 8, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Have you all hugged a tree today?

  9. Joemamma   March 8, 2012 at 9:05 am

    The only way this would have been wrong is if Richards had used his position to go shoot a mountain lion in CA. The fact that he as the commissioner of CA game and Fish went all the way to Idaho ( a place where shooting a mountain lion is not detrimental to populations) to hunt shows a great deal of responsibility.

    It’s the department of Game and Fish, not the critter saving department! I would rather have a hunter and fisherman in charge, not some anti gun/hunting liberal.

  10. White Pants   March 8, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Comment #7 De Luz Neighbor
    Gives a focused intelligent insight into the reality of this issue concerning Richards. Dan Richards needs to step down from his position!!!

  11. gw   March 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

    More proof that the definitions of "legal" and "illegal" are not understood.

  12. Fact Checker   March 8, 2012 at 10:26 am

    De Luz NeighborHow did Richards breached our trust? He did not violate a single California Law. How was it "Trophy" hunting as you described it? Is there not a need in Idaho for decreased predation? Is not one of the jobs of any wildlife management/ enforcement agancies to try and maintain a balance in the ecosystem?

    Finally, to say sportsman and evironmentalist are NOW pitted against each other is interesting. I have been a sportsman for many years and would say the two have been pitted against one another for quite sometime.

  13. Joan Farey   March 8, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I am just sick over this, Dan Richards you were hired to protect these endangered lions please have a heart, please God is crying for the death of one ofhis most beautiful creatures, if we keep killing these of Gods creatures they wil become extint, it is fortold in the bible, remember Noah, he saved all the animals from the great flood,please STOP,God is watching us, all of us,we need to respect gods creatures, big and small, I pray for you that you turn to god,too many of gods creatures are becoming extinct at the hands of mankind, remember the garden of eden,don,t let the DEVIL,into your heart,I beg you, before it,s too late for mankind as well, look in the bibile every thing is coming TRUE.

  14. Joan Fare   March 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

    HI I just want to say I love lions, and I pray we protect them, and save them for our great grandchildren to enjoy, So please let,s proect all Gods creatures they have a right to live as much as mankind, and womankind.

  15. Joan Farey   March 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Dan Richards good for you I am SOOOOO tired of all these bleeding heart liberals,,,,DEmocrats of coarse sticking there big nioses into hunting, you go after the whales, and the elephnts, and panda bears in china, yeah Dn, kill them all let god sort them out at the end if this stinking planet you are a man after my own heart, kill, kill,kill,.

  16. Fallbrook Resident Since 86   March 8, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Did this idiot do anything illegal-no
    Was it within his rights-yes
    Was it a responsible and adult act of a public official-no

    He deserves the wrath he is getting for being a fool………

  17. Dan   March 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

    The Fish and Came Commission is seperate from DFG. The DFG is the law enforcement for fish and wildlife matters. The members of the Commisson are appointed by the governor. They are paid a maximum of $100 a day, not to exceed $500 per month. In effect, they volunteer most of their time to the state for very little compensation

    Richards did nothing wrong. Removing him for this would like firing every cop that ever gambled in vegas.

    I can assure you, if Richards had done anything illegal, the hunters and fisherman of this state would have led the charge to force his removal.

    Hunting moutain lions is indeed illegal in CA, but not Idaho.

    Moutain lions are a protected species in CA, not endangered. The IUCN classifies mountain lions as a species of least concern, meaning they are no threat from extinction.

    The protected status is a political label placed on the animal based on emotions, not supported by sound scientific wildlife conservation models.

    Today, more mountain lions are killed with depradation permits or hired guns than were ever killed when there was a legal season.
    In effect, CA taxpayers are paying professionals to control an animal that was once controlled by the public by PAYING the state.

    Richards has been the voice of reason on the Commission, balancing the needs for ALL the people of CA, not just the hunters/fisherman or the environmental groups. He sticks to the facts and doesn’t let the emotions interfere. He will be missed when his term is up in Jan.

    I resent a group based out of DC (HSUS), or Tucson (CBD) intefering with the internal workings of CA.

  18. FR 86   March 8, 2012 at 11:40 am

    The issue isn’t that he killed a mountain lion legally. The issue is that he acted like an ass…… the Governer that appointed him.

  19. local   March 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Thanks Dan.

  20. Hillbilly   March 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    It appears his actions were legal but I don’t understand KILLING an animal just for the sport of it. Excuse me while i go hug a tree.

  21. Dan   March 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm


    Hunting isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. I’ve, personally, always had an issue with the term "sport" hunting. I guess for lack of a better label it’ll do. I mean, "sport" as opposed to what other kind of hunting? Subsistence? To my knowledge, there isn’t anymore susbsistence public hunting in the lower 48. It’s illegal.

    Do I need to hunt anymore to survive? No. But to me it seems a more honest way of putting food on the table. It’s free range, its organic, lowfat, low in cholesterol and local. No hormones, no antibotoics. I know what kinda shape the animal was before it ended up on my plate. Seems more honest and humane than a stockyard and assembly line butchering.

    As for trophy hunting…that also pretty much misunderstood as well. When someone trophy hunts, he holds out for a better animal and doesn’t settle for anything less. The trophy hunter actually is more likely to come home empty handed that anyone else.

    Hey, I don’t understand golfing. Seems to me a terrible waste of habitat. Makes me wonder how many animals were displaced or killed so people can knock a ball into a hole with a stick. Just because I don’t understand it, doesn’t mean I’ll stand in the way of your enjoyment of golf.

    There’s always two sides to every issue, somewhere in the middle is the truth.

  22. Fact Checker   March 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Dan, Bravo on articulating clearly the positive aspects of hunting and the idea of not interferring with someone elses idea of enjoyable activity that is legal.

  23. Fact Checker   March 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Joan, Since God crys for the creatures will kill. Does God cry when the mountain lion kills a fawn? Humans are God’s creatures and have been predators for thousands of years. When did God decide humans were no longer allowed to be predators?

    As to your comment about "bleeding heart liberal Democrats….kill, kill, kill." I missed who made that acusation in this discussion, perhaps a more civil discourse would be productive.

  24. Me   March 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Just another big, bad "he-man" shooting unarmed animals.

  25. Aslan   March 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Oh Wow! Such a brave guy with a gun against an unarmed animal. Legal or Illegal – It does not matter because it’s morally wrong to kill a creature wandering freely in it’s own natural habitat. That lion was entitled to live just like all the rest of us. I doubt if Mr. Richards is hungry and it is highly unlikely that he would eat a mountain lion so why did he kill the animal? It was done for Mr. Richards’ self-gain and and the pure pleasure of a random kill at the expense of the lion’s life. I would like to know how Mr. Richards would feel if he was hunted by a lion. I don’t think he would enjoy the experience and he would then know how the lion or any animal feels when it is close to death. Those of us who oppose the barbaric slaughter of animals have every right to feel outrage at this heinous act of cruelty. There may be lots of debating about who is right and who is wrong on this issue in a world divided between hideous humans who like to kill animals for fun and others who have a heartfelt caring attitude towards all animals, so you just got to ask yourself…Why is it right for a human predator to kill a wild animal when it is totally unnecessary? The wild animals kill to survive in the food chain because unlike Dan Richards, they can’t go to McDonald’s or the Shopping Mall to get food. Shame on you Dan Richards!

  26. Aslan   March 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    ‘The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.’ Oscar Wilde

  27. Dan   March 10, 2012 at 8:49 am


    Unless your 100% Vegan, you have no valid arguement. The meat from McDonalds or the supermarket comes from a dead animal. Just because you didn’t do it yourself doesn’t make you less culpable in it’s death.

    Throughout history, all peoples have used animals for food. In rural areas all over the world, folks still raise animals with the intent to kill them. Even here in Fallbrook.

    Richard shot a lion in Idaho, under the ranch’s depradation permit. Meaning the animal had been declared a threat to the ranches livestock by the state of Idaho and permit was issued. Same thing happens here in CA, more so now than back when there was a season in the state.

    People have been killed and EATEN by mtn lions here in CA. I can think of two cases in the San Diego area. I’ve personally been stalked three times by mtn lions and it ISN’T pleasant. It’s a bit terrifiying actually. Nothing brings home the meaning of Apex Predator like looking into the eyes of an animal considering you for its next meal. They aren’t nice critters.

    The fact is, humans are here. We’ve built our society inside the animals habitat. The genies out of the bottle and it’s not going back in. When the animal becomes a threat or a nuisance in our human/animal interaction the animal is often killed. That’s a fact of life. If you want to give habitat back to the animals, I suggest you start with by give your property back to nature. Grow up.

    I, for one, will make no apology for my right to exist in this world.

  28. Aslan   March 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I don’t think McDonald’s have ‘Mighty Mountain Lion Mac’ on the menu and I don’t ever recall a mountain lion booking a table at a restaurant. The main point in my previous comment asked why kill an animal which is not generally eaten by humans? In my opinion the lion and other animals have every right to co-exist with humans in our wider habitat.
    Our views may differ Dan but that’s because you are not at one with nature and you don’t have a conscious when it comes to wild animals.
    If wild animals are a danger to humans, then yes of course, action must be taken and dangerous animals must be put down and if the population of certain animals has exceeded limits where there is not a plentiful food supply to sustain them in their natural habitat then unfortunately controlled culling must take place. Killing for fun! I don’t agree with that and I also consider noble creatures such as mountain lions are entitled to sanctuary in the wild.
    I also don’t need to ”Grow Up” – I’m entitled to my opinion just as much as you are…Maybe someday you will suddenly realize that the destruction of creatures is not such a pleasing experience.

  29. Cranky   March 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I never really felt the need to kill a mountain lion for sport. I certainly would in self defense, but I just really don’t want to expend the energy that is required to pursue such an animal. I also don’t want to be told I can’t hunt a mountain lion legally if I want to. I want the right to chose what I eat. I don’t want to be told that as much as a democrat doesn’t want a woman to be told she can’t kill her unborn baby. You liberal ninnies really need to get your priorities straight.

  30. Dan   March 12, 2012 at 7:12 am

    You might be suprised about how passionate I am about wildlife conservation. I indirectly and directly contribute thousands $$ to wildlife conservation every year. I spend about 50 days a year in the field hunting and observing ALL kinds of animals, not just the game animals.

    Hunting isn’t about the kill, its about the hunt. A kill isn’t the measure of a successful hunt, it’s the least pleasant part. It’s the whole package. Someone famous once said "One doesn’t hunt to have killed, but killed to have hunted".

    I personally have never hunted mt lions and don’t have a desire to. But I do support hunting as a part of the North American Conservation Model that has proven to be the most succesfull in the world. It’s based on sound scientific principles.

    This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson act, the most successfull piece of legislation to benifit wildlife ever passed. It places a tax on hunters and fisherman to support conservation efforts. It was promoted and passed by hunters/fisherman, this nations first conservationist’s. Hunting licenses and tags were implemented by hunters, with monies collected to benefit wildlife.

    Today, in CA, a full 25% of the DFG budget is derived from hunters and fisherman. We gladly furnish this money knowing full well that the proceeds will benefit ALL wildlife, not just game animals. Every time I hit the field, I’ve paid a fee of some kind for that privilige. Can a bird watcher or a hiker say that?

    Next time your out hiking and see deer, or bear or even elk. You can thank hunters who’ve been footing the bill before anyone else cared.

  31. Dan   March 12, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Sure they can coexist. But when the mt lion starts eating the ranchers cattle/sheep etc, there’s a conflict and that’s why there are depredation permits. Which is what the mtn lion was killed under.

    At some point you have to trust the biologist and the state wildlife agencies to do what we paid them for. I’m sure Idaho investigated before issuing the permit.

    I don’t hunt coyotes, but if they start eating my pets/chickens/livestock I don’t consider that we’re happily coexisting anymore and will take action to protect my pets/livelyhood etc.

    Hunters and fishermen are this countries original wildlife conservationists. This year marks the 75th annivesary of the Pittmen-Robertson act, concieved and passed by hunters to benefit ALL wildlife. Hunters and fisherman cared about the wildlife long before anyone else could be bothered with it. In fact, hunting licenses and tags were implemented by hunters to provide funding for state wildlife programs. Thats ALL the animals, not just the game species.

    In addition to state taxes, various license and tag fees, the Pittman-Robertson act charges an 11% tax on hunting and fishing equipment. In effect, when a hunter takes to the field to chase a deer, he’s paid for that privilige three times. By the way, the success rate for deer hunting in CA is between 11-18%.

    The North American Wildlife Conservation Model is the most successful wildlife management program in the world. A part of that model is hunting, based on scientific data and population control.

    If checked, you’d find that today, as result of hunters and fishermans concern for wildlife, there are more animals on this continent then when the piligrims stepped ashore.

    I spent about 50 days a year hunting and contribute directly and indirectly, thousands of dollars to wildlife conservation. A full 25% of the DFG’s budget, some $90 million comes directly from hunters and fisherman.

    If your a hiker or birdwatcher can you say the same? And yet, you benefit from our work, money and concern.

  32. Fact Checker   March 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Dan I thank you for all your contributions and agree with everything you have presented. Unfortunately, I think this is one of the topics that some people can only see one way.

    I would also ask those who are Vegan or choose not to eat animal byproducts; don’t large agricultural farms take away natural habitat? Don’t all human endeavors somehow affect the naturnal world? As I said before the lion kills the fawn, humans kill the lion when needed.

  33. MyView   March 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

    As an animal lover, I don’t like the idea of hunting, but the logical & practical part of me understands the need for maintaining the balance in nature. I have to agree with "Dan" & "Fact Checker" with some of the points that they have brought up
    We, as humans, have unbalanced nature because of our extremes in development – large housing subdivisions, "organic" agricultural farms, highways, wineries, etc. We are all at fault to some degree – meat eaters & vegetarians alike. So, we now have to take on the responsibility of bringing nature back into balance when there is an overabundance of wildlife or there is a danger from wildlife. People use to hunt just for food or protection, but things have changed now. I just hope that those of you that do hunt – you are a crack shot and that whatever animal/bird you shoot at is killed instantly.

    I think the part that bothers me about the photo(s) of Dan Richards with the dead mountain lion is that he was smiling so much. I understand that most hunters pose with their dead animal in such a way, but it makes it appear that they hunt not for "The thrill of the hunt", but more for "The thrill of the kill".

    The following comparison is how I think many animal lovers see this issue (Not the best comparison, but the best that I can come up with at this time): I take my dog who is very sick to the vet. The vet really likes his job treating animals, studying the best treatments, researching for cures – "the thrill of the hunt"! The vet tells me that after all of his studying & researching, the only way to handle my dog’s problem is to put him to sleep. After my dog is put to sleep, my vet poses – SMILING – with my dead dog and puts the photo up in his waiting room.


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