California Fish & Game President Ousted Over Legal Hunting

Dan RichardsBack in February, we brought you the story of Dan Richards, then-president of the California Fish & Game Commission, who at the time was catching a lot of heat over legally shooting a cougar during a hunt in Idaho.

California state lawmakers were quick to get on their moral high horses, calling for Richards' resignation and citing the fact that mountain lions are protected in California, to which Richards replied with a reasonable, yet stinging, letter addressed to the California legislature in which he called out the hypocrisy of those calling for his resignation.

We had hoped cooler heads would prevail and that Richards would be able to keep his job, but we can't always get what we want, can we? On Wednesday, Richards was removed from his position.

Backed by groups like the Humane Society of the United States, lawmakers claimed Richards hunt displayed poor judgment, apparently disregarding the will of some Californians.

Despite the fact Richards committed no crime and participated in a completely legal hunt, commissioners voted unanimously to oust Richards as president, replacing him with Jim Kellogg, who is apparently viewed as a compromise between outdoorsmen and environmental groups. Richards will continue to serve as a commissioner, but is not expected to be reinstated by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Richards handled his departure with class.

"I was listening to Nickelback when I was working out on the treadmill today, and they were playing their great song, 'If Today Was Your Last Day,'[...]I was fully aware that today was my last day as president of the Commission," Richards said. "Thank God it's not my last day on this green earth. It's been a privilege and an honor to be on this Commission. I tried to be consistent and give everyone a voice and a fair shake. I believe I made decisions on matters that reflected that."

Of course, the HSUS continued to kick a man while he's down.

"Richards sure paid a high price for flaunting his out-of-sync values in Californians' faces," Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director of the HSUS, said in an email to U-T San Diego. "We are glad to see the Commission hold him accountable for his unprofessional behavior."

News flash, Ms. Fearing: Richards is a Californian. His very existence negates the insane assumption that the HSUS speaks for all citizens of California.

Maybe killing a cougar in California is illegal, but how does that prohibit citizens from shooting it somewhere else? Look at it this way: Gambling is not a legal activity in the state of California, so by the logic of the HSUS, gambling is not in sync with Californians' values. But you better believe it's legal in Nevada. So, should any lawmaker cross state lines to play a little blackjack in Reno or Vegas, should that lawmaker then be removed from office for "flaunting his out-of-sync values in Californians' faces"? This is an open question, HSUS; we'd love to hear your logic here.

Nevertheless, what a shame that participating in a completely legal activity ultimately costs a man his job. We'd personally love to have a conservationist like Dan Richards in our neck of the woods, though we'd understand if he would choose to stay away from the political game for a while.

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