Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In California, Much Ado About Nothing

The Humane Society of the United States' California branch is all bent out of shape because the President of the California Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards, went mountain lion hunting in Idaho. While mountain lion hunting has been prohibited in California since 1990, it is perfectly legal in Idaho where Mr. Richards also owns a cabin. Indeed, California is the only state from the Rockies to the Pacific that bans hunting of mountain lions. The prohibition that began in 1990 was not the result of scientific study by wildlife biologists but rather the result of Proposition 117.

Mr. Richards had posted this picture and story in the Western Outdoor News about his hunting trip to Idaho.
NEW COMMISSION PRESIDENT CELEBRATES A SUCCESSFUL HUNT – California Fish and Game commissioner Dan W. Richards travelled deep into the wicked terrain of Idaho’s Flying B Ranch to fulfill a long-held goal. “It was the most physically exhausting hunt of my lifetime. Eight hours of cold weather hiking in very difficult terrain. I told the guides I appreciated the hard work. They were unbelievably professional, first class all the way,” he said. Richards said he took the big cat over iron sights using a Winchester Centennial lever action .45 carbine. Asked about California’s mountain lion moratorium, Richards didn’t hesitate. “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”
Photo courtesy of Dan Richards
This prompted the Humane Society of the US-California chapter to start a campaign to get Mr. Richards removed. They posted this on their Facebook page:
Posing with this dead mountain lion is California's new Fish and Game commission president Dan Richards. Since mountain lions are protected in our state, he went to Idaho to bag this trophy. As a hunter friend of mine said when he saw this photo, "That's not right. You don't kill what you don't eat." I agree. If you do too, drop a (polite) email to the folks at the Fish and Game Commission and ask for a new president:
Dan Richards is what these so-called environmental and animal rights groups hate - a Republican hunter who is a life member of the NRA who refuses to bend to their will.
A San Bernardino County Republican appointed to the five-member commission by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, Richards has been its most outspoken advocate for expanding hunting, often clashing with environmental and animal welfare groups.

As president, Richards can set the commission's agenda on a range of issues including endangered species protections, ocean fishing rules and all types of hunting regulation from rabbits to black bears. If he were to bring the dead mountain lion back to California from Idaho, he would be in violation of state law.
As such, given our new political climate, he must be destroyed. Unfortunately, they have willing allies in the media and with certain Democratic legislators. The news report below, while it emphasizes the hunt was legal, devotes most of its time to Jennifer Fearing of HSUS-California. Ms. Fearing has compared Richards' legal hunt to an American drug czar using drugs in a country where it was legal.

And, according to a report in the Mercury News, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, may introduce a resolution in the California Assembly to have Richards removed. Richards cannot be removed by Gov. Jerry Brown but can be removed from office by a majority vote of both houses of the California legislature.
"He's thumbing his nose at California law," Huffman said. "He's mocking it. Frankly, I think he should face the music and step down. He's done something that's a disgrace to his position and to responsible hunters in California."
The comments by Assemblyman Huffman are a joke. What Mr. Richards did would be the equivalent of me going to the Rockies to hunt elk. While elk have been reintroduced to the Smoky Mountains, they are a protected species.

The mountain lion or cougar is an apex predator. While humans may be above it in the predatory hierarchy, as many reports show, the mountain lion will attack humans. They are not the big kitty that fears man and just wants to be left to live its life in peace as the anti-hunting groups would have you believe.

I, for one, shed no false tears of moral outrage over Dan Richards killing a mountain lion after a long and arduous hunt. Rather I would congratulate him on his successful hunt and nice trophy.

UPDATE: The Outdoor Wire today published an editorial from Bill Karr of the Western Outdoor News in response to the HSUS campaign to remove Dan Richards. It is an excellent read and points out that Jennifer Fearing of the HSUS-California is nothing but a carpetbagger. She arrived in California 3 years ago from the DC headquarters of HSUS. Other animal rights activists are siding with Richards on this one.
This all comes from two people, and an organization, that has had no physical presence in California whatsoever until the past few years. The HSUS headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and that is, in fact, where the California head of HSUS, Jennifer Fearing, came from just 3 years ago to try and influence California politics. And the crying shame is, they found some success with the gullible, left-leaning California majority.

It seems to me, though, that HSUS has gone way out on a limb with this one, though. Even other animal rights activists disagree with HSUS. In comments to the San Jose Mercury News, Eric Mills, Coordinator for Action for Animals out of Oakland had this to say about Richards: "The anger here is misplaced. Commissioner Dan Richards did nothing illegal. Mountain lion hunting is not against the law in Idaho. Nor was this a 'canned' hunt, as some have claimed. Dan Richards is not the enemy. He's an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, which has been well-known for years. No one has a right to be surprised by this hunt."

Mills even went so far as to say "I've found him to be honest, thoughtful, articulate, fair and outspoken."


  1. I was not able to see any number on how much little kitty weighs, but if he's a typical sized guy, that must be about a 150 pound cat. Yow. I'd consider myself extremely lucky to see a cougar.

    The politics are disgusting, but it's not a surprise. I think it happens every time.

  2. The thing is he is right all day long. If you want a healthy population of animals with a strong state game department, you expand hunting and properly regulate and license it. Then, you use the huge influx of cash to efficiently run your enforcement division and everyone is happy. The hunters get to hunt legally and they are happy knowing that the game they are hunting and managing is protected from jerks that poach. Win win.

  3. I vigorously agree with 45er, above.

    I live in California, and it's my standard procedure to vote against ballot initiatives. Many of them are well-intentioned and align with causes I support, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the well-intentioned ballot initiatives are virtually always poorly written and would do more harm than good. (The non-well-intentioned ones are written by astroturf business interests.)

    The ballot initiative process was intended to provide the voters with a way to cut through politics and get things done. Unfortunately, it's proved to be only a means by which to pass terrible law that is almost impossible to repeal.