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Fish and Game Commission president declines to step down for Idaho hunt

Dan Richards, the president of the California Fish and Game Commission (Western Outdoor News)

February 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The head of California's Fish and Game Commission is speaking out amid growing demands that he resign after killing a mountain lion out of state.

Dan Richards, the embattled president of the California Fish and Game Commission, bluntly told his critics in the Legislature there is zero chance of him resigning after online pictures of his legal kill of a mountain lion in Idaho prompted calls from Democrats to step down.

In a letter, Dan Richards said: " ... my 100 percent legal activity outside California, or anyone else's for that matter, is none of your business."

"The tone in the letter is pretty arrogant," said Jim Metropulos, Sierra Club legislative representative.

California voters banned the killing of mountain lions in 1990. The Sierra Club thinks Schwarzenegger-appointee Richards exercised poor judgment, thumbing his nose at that law. They want him out.

"This is not about mountain-lion hunting in Idaho. It's about who leads the Fish and Game Commission and sets the policy for protecting wildlife in California," said Metropulos. "The Sierra Club does not believe that this is a responsible person."

It would have been illegal to bring the dead mountain lion back to California.

Richards goes on to say in the letter his hunting group "dined on the mountain lion for dinner."

Avid hunter and state Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) thinks the Democrats' call for Richards' resignation is a waste of time, considering the other problems the state faces.

Harman says you can't expect state laws to dictate how people behave in other states, and that California is wrong to ban mountain-lion hunting when you consider the increased attacks on people.

"The mountain lion population has grown significantly and expanded and they are now more and more prevalent in urban areas," said Harman.

Only the Legislature can remove Commissioner Richards with a majority vote. It's unclear what Democrats will do next. But they did not like his letter.

"It's one thing to follow the law and to hunt in the way he did. It's another thing to, I think, respond in sort of an 'I'll do what I want' kind of a manner," said Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Richards also pointed out he is paid $100 per meeting as president of the Fish and Game Commission.