California Fish and Wildlife President Removed From Office

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?

Related Reading:

CA Fish & Game Official Shoots Mountain Lion, Is “Glad It’s Legal In Idaho”

Mountain Lions Returning to Midwestern American States

Santa Monica Mountain Lion Shooting Leads to Policy Changes

South Dakota Mountain Lion Walks to Connecticut

Photo credit: Richard Gillin via Flickr


Fred Hoekstra
Fred H5 years ago

Thank you Megan, for Sharing this!

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago

Great news!

Julia W.
Julia W5 years ago

And we are glad he's no longer President of the Organization.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

Noted and Thanx for posting :-0

Carol O.
Carol O'Connell5 years ago

Mr Richards was obviously in the wrong position - and did not deserve to be President of Fish and Wildlife - especially as he seemed to have it planned how he could still go ahead in another state to shoot and kill (or play guns). I have never understood how anyone could consider shoot hunting a sport - there is no sport involved when one party has high powered weapons and is usually in a group with other like minded individuals, and the other party is an animal, carrying no weapons (obviously) tracked down probably with dogs, cornered and killed. May be its just me, but I don't see any sport in this, this is no fair match - so not sport.
I think there is already a serious gun problem in the US, you see it all the time on the news - perhaps the NRA could do something about the control of illegal weapons instead of worrying about the "sport" of shooting up animals.

Phil S.
Phil S.5 years ago

We will agree to disagree. Thanks for the civil discussion and the back up from Susan G and her demand to silence disagreement.

America's wildlife was brought from the brink of disaster by concerned sportsmen. Market hunting had decimated populations- rules and regulations were put into place to ensure it never happened again. Because human activity has invaded many areas of wildlife, more activity is needed to maintain the balance. Most consumptive users of wildlife (hunters) consider legally taking an animal, not much different than a farmer harvesting his crops. I know this won't change your mind but the NRA and other groups like Rockey Mountain Elk Foundation and Ducks Unlimited do more to preserve and increase animal populations than most people realize. Work projects, donated time and $$ to provide and preserve wild areas for everyone to share- even you- if you care to just go out and hike or take pictures. It's great to behold the wonders of nature- go out and enjoy them.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Oh, and Phil? You are right in that I am no expert on what the NRA does, but please don't expect me to believe they do much, if ANYTHING for the welfare of animals. Their only interest in wildlife would be to make danged sure there will always be targets for them out there. The last place I'd look for information on what they do FOR wildlife would be their own website. What organization would come out and admit what they do that is negative? Ummmm, so like they'd have a mission statement "Join the NRA and help us eradicate deer, elk and moose"?

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Again, Thanks, Phil for having the ability to disagree yet remain polite. Why that seems so difficult for some in Care.2 is amazing to me. Anyway, yes, I disagree with you on this and haven't yet read a single reason not to.

Richards indeed has every right to spend money on a vacation of his choice. The question would then be who paid for it, his constituents (the taxpayers) or solely from his own funds. The fact he is a member of a board supposedly put in place to PROTECT wildlife is very contrary to what he does on his own time. To me, that is unethical and because he IS a public official, should not be allowed. If you went to a doctor for medical advice and found that your doctor then told you to lose weight and stop smoking, yet HE was grossly obese and puffing away himself, would you not say he shouldn't be practicing medicine? Would you hire Michael Vick to dog sit your pet? If you can't see the irony in all of this, you are just blind. It doesn't matter that what he did in another state was legal in the OTHER state, it still conflicts 100% with what his public office commands. Should you NOT be criticized and asked to step down from you job (hypothetical case here, okay) as head of the local animal shelter if you send your dog to China to be cut up for dog food and then you go to China to eat him? Geez, it was legal, right?

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

If you are put in charge of protecting wildlife, then go to another state to kill such wildlife, you should EXPECT to be fired!

Phil S.
Phil S.5 years ago

Diane L - I appreciate your passion for your views. The purpose of the wildlife departments and comissions is to create and enforce laws concerning wildlife issues. They set seasons, bag limits and numerous laws used to manage and regulate wild animals. They are not there to "protect" wildlife.

You also don't seem to know much about what the NRA does and all the safety and wildlife programs they have that actually have a direct positive impact on wildlife- don't be afraid to research their website and get some Facts and not the negative propaganda that is so prevalant.

It also is Richard's choice to determine how he spends his vacation and spare time as long as it's legal. We're all for freedom of choice - right?

Susan G- I see how you are very tolerant of other people's opinion as long as it agrees with yours.