A victory of sorts has occurred in California. Dan Richards, President of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, has unanimously been voted out as president but will retain his seat on the commission – along with his voting rights — until his term expires in January 2013. The hullabaloo began in February when a photo made internet rounds of Richards holding a mountain lion which he shot in Idaho. Care2 writer Kristina Chew reported on it in February; she noted Richards’ quote: “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”
Animal activists loudly protested — including a Care2 petition – asking California Governor Jerry Brown to remove Richards from the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Although this didn’t happen, activists will need to be content with the step down from president and the knowledge there is only five more months remaining on Richards’s term on the commission.
“Californians have twice voted in a resounding fashion to protect mountain lions in our state, and his flagrant flaunting of his disagreement with the electorate put him out of sync with California,” said Jennifer Fearing, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. “We’re glad to see the commission take action.”
The irony here is it’s illegal to hunt and kill mountain lions in California, and has been for over 20 years. Richards is a lifetime member of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and lists hunting among his life’s pleasures. In February of this year, he accepted the $7,000 hunting trip in Idaho as a gift. After an ethics charge was lodged, Richards repaid the hunting lodge.
“There’s no chance I did anything wrong,” Richards said. “I did everything by the book.”
Since Idaho allows the hunting and killing of mountain lions, technically Richards did nothing illegal. But was he wrong? Is it unethical for a government representative — of a state that outlaws the killing of mountain lions — to then travel to a state where it is legal to pursue his thrill of the hunt? What do you think?
Photo credit: Richard Gillin via Flickr