February 29, 2012
A California Fish and Game official who shot a mountain lion has been urged to resign by state officials after a photo surfaced of the official hoisting the puma.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called on Fish and Game Commission president Daniel Richards to leave his post after Richards shot the animal during a hunting expedition in Idaho. The photo quickly made rounds around the Internet, and was quoted in Western Outdoors News saying, "I'm glad it's legal in Idaho."
Big cat hunting has been illegal in California since 1972, a ban that was signed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and has been renewed twice by California lawmakers, but cougar hunts are legal in Idaho, where Richards reportedly paid a $7,000 fee to tree shoot the puma.
Still, the bleeding hearts of California are up in arms and calling for Richards' resignation, with 40 Democratic state Assembly members calling for Richards' resignation.
"While not in California at the time, your actions call into question whether you can live up to the calling of your office," Newsom said in a letter to Richards. "I do appreciate that you did nothing illegal in Idaho, but it is clear that your actions do not reflect the values of the people of California. ... Your continued presence on the Commission is a distraction from those important issues. As such, I am prevailing on your sense of civic service to respectfully request you resign, effective immediately, so we can move on to the pressing issues facing our great state."
However, Newsom admitted that he has a personal connection with mountain lion preservation, as his father, Judge William Newsom, is the past president of the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation.
Richards was appointed to the commission in 2008 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has since stated that there is "zero chance" of him resigning, and compared his hunt to a California lawmaker gambling in Nevada.
In addition, Richards said he did eat a cougar for dinner, he did not use a high-powered rifle and he has "consistently supported" conservation efforts backed by scientific data.
"Do you really think a California commissioner is actually obligated to follow California laws across these United States? Really?" Richards wrote in a letter sent to Newsom and the entire Legislature, the governor, the California secretary of Natural Resources and members of the Fish and Game Commission. "Did I try to change California's laws subversively? Did I encourage anyone to circumvent our rules and regulations? While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100 percent legal activity outside California, or anyone else's for that matter, is none of your business.
"And so we're perfectly clear, this hunt was not a high-fence hunt, we didn't use (four) wheel drive trucks, snow machines or ATVs to chase the cat, I did not use a high-powered rifle with a scope at 300 yards and we did dine on mountain lion for dinner, all contrary to some erroneous reports. Under your standards, all Californians who enjoy gaming in Nevada are somehow ethically challenged as true Californians and should be removed from any official position. My guess is the Legislative chambers might look a little barren should that logic prevail."