On February 2nd, through a highly-questionable election, Dan Richards assumed the presidency of the California Department of Fish and Game Commission. Richards boasts a lifetime membership to the NRA and numerous other hunting organizations. Just one week later, Richards' photo appeared in an outdoors hunting blog; in it he's holding up a freshly killed mountain lion trophy. Mountain lions are a specially protected mammal in California, with the sport hunting of them banned since 1990. Richards had traveled to Idaho in January — where it's legal to shoot lions — and paid thousands of dollars on a guided hunt that used hounds to tree his cat.
When asked his thoughts on California's mountain lion hunting ban, Richards replied, "I'm glad it's legal in Idaho."
During the past few weeks, thousands of Californians and wildlife enthusiasts from around the country have told the state legislature to fire California Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards.
MLF members and wildlife activists like you have been instrumental the past few weeks in sparking significant changes in the Commission.
Listen to Mountain Lion Foundation's Amy Rodrigues on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, as she is interviewed about the ethics of Dan Richards' recent behavior and the tragedy of trophy hunting mountain lions.
You can also hear discussion of the controversy on KQED's Forum, Wildlife Chief Under Fire, featuring, among others, William Newsom, retired appellate justice and former president of the Mountain Lion Foundation.
If Shakespeare were still alive and living in California, his famous line from Hamlet might well have read: Something is rotten in California's Fish and Game Commission!
Take the case of the Commission's newly elected President Dan Richards, a "Life member" of the NRA, who also actively supports several hunting organizations which pass themselves off as quasi "conservation" organizations. It cost Richards thousands of dollars and a trip to Idaho, but he recently fulfilled his long-held dream of killing a mountain lion for fun. When asked about California's ban on hunting lions (Proposition 117) he proudly stated "I'm glad it's legal in Idaho."
George Skelton's March 3, 2012 Los Angeles Times, Capitol Journal commentary A Fish & Game faux pas presents a balanced and thoughtful point of view regarding the call for Richards' resignation.
There are several online petitions asking for the removal of Richards from the Commission. Sign one or all of them to add your name to the list of those opposing Richards' behavior. There is no "official" aspect to these petitions at this time.
Consult this list of California Legislators, and send a letter and/or email to those who represent you, stressing the value of mountain lions and the urgent need to remove Richards from public office.
While 40 Assemblymembers have mailed Richards a letter calling for him to resign, and Richards has also received a letter from Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom it's a step in the right direction, not the end of the story. If your assemblymember signed the letter, thank him or her by sending a letter or email. If not, write your legislator and urge them — not only to sign — but to sponsor and vote for a bill to remove Richards from office.
Please send a copy of your letter to Assemblymember Jared Huffman, and to the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Assemblymember Jared Huffman
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0006
You can learn more about the environmental record of your California legislators by checking the scorecard at the California League of Conservation Voters.
State of California
Fish and Game Commission
c/o Sonke Mastrup
1416 Ninth Street, Room 1320
Sacramento CA 94244-2090
Even if you don't live in California, your opinion counts. As Richards' deplorable behavior makes very clear, America's lions belong to the wild, and to us all... not just a few wealthy trophy hunters.
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