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Should killing and eating a mountain lion cost Fish and Game head his job?

A California mountain lion.
A California mountain lion.
CaliforniaDFG/ Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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In January, the president of California’s Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards shot, killed and ate a mountain lion while on a hunting trip to the Flying B Ranch in Kamiah, Idaho. About a month ago a picture of Richards, standing in the snow with his gun and his kill, appeared on a hunting website, sparking an uproar.

Soon 40 members of the California state legislature as well as the Sierra Club and the Humane Society were calling for Richard’s ouster. According to a letter from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Richards’ actions don’t “reflect the values of the people of California.”

Hunters, fisherman and gun rights advocates shot back pointing out that though hunting mountain lions is illegal in California and has been for 40 years, it’s perfectly legal in Idaho and Richards did nothing wrong.

According to the California Rifle and Pistol Association the members of the legislature that want to fire Richards are using the legally killed mountain lion as an way of ridding themselves of a lifelong hunter whose agenda differs from theirs.

Yesterday the regular monthly meeting of the Fish and Game Commission in Riverside was packed, mostly with people supportive of Richards. Only a few animal rights activists came to protest.

So, is Richards out of step with California’s values? Should legally killing an animal in one state preclude you from holding a particular job in another? Is California’s legislature using the mountain lion as an excuse to kill the career of a person who doesn’t share their environmental aims?


Amy Rodrigues, Outreach Coordinator, the Mountain Lion Foundation

Bill Gaines, President, California Outdoor Heritage Alliance