California Fish & Game Commissioner Bags a Big Cat In Idaho; Californians Trying To Bag Him

A "trophy shot" of the Golden State's top Fish and Game Commission official hugging the carcass of a mountain lion he'd just treed and shot has Californians steaming.


For decades hunters have posed for pictures with their kill -- proof of the culmination of a successful hunt.

California Fish and Game Commission president Dan Richards' trophy shot shows him happily hugging the lifeless carcass of a magnificent mountain lion, treed by dogs and shot by Richards during an expedition on an Idaho hunting ranch.

“I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho," Richards was quoted as saying when asked about the moratorium banning the hunting of big cats in California. But the echoes of his Idaho killshot are not dying away, and instead are rippling throughout his home state as public officials and citizens alike demand his ouster.

Supporters say Richards' position with the California Fish and Game Commission (not to be confused with the state Department of Fish and Game) has no bearing on his private desire to trek into Idaho back country with professional guides and stalk, tree and shoot a mountain lion.

Others, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and a growing number of state officials, maintain that Richards' actions "do not reflect the values of the people of California" and are calling on him to resign.

A description of the commission's responsibilities on its website included this description of their role: "The Commissioners' ultimate decisions must reflect not only the biological needs of our fish and wildlife, but also the wishes, needs and desires of all those who enjoy these resources. This is not an easy course to follow, and frequently it leads to conflicts between various interest groups. However, with the interest, understanding and involvement of everyone who appreciates our magnificent fish and wildlife resources, the California Fish and Game Commission will continue along the path of sound and enlightened resource management."

We'll leave it to you. What do you think?

Robert L March 01, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Just to be clear, the Fish and Game Commission has nothing to do with Game Wardens, who are employed by the Department of Fish and Game, other than establishing policy. Two seperate entities. http://www.fgc.ca.gov/public/information/ Read the bio's of F&G Commissioners here: http://www.fgc.ca.gov/public/information/bios.aspx#richards and consider their collective contributions to the state, then reflect upon what you have done, then chime in if Mr. Richards should be removed from his post. Perhaps you would be willing to take such a publicly scrutinized and time-consuming position for $500/month. Granted, he may be the least impressive of the bunch, but not exactly a hooligan. I stand firmly with him in his right to hunt legally, while not impressed with his allowing the photo to become public. The good news for all of you haters is that his term will likely not be renewed in 2013... Hopefully, the diversity of the commission will be considered when appointing his replacement.
Brad Katkowsky March 01, 2012 at 02:50 PM
To some of the bluff and bluster people on this thread. Merely declaring yourselves the winner of the argument does not make it so. Calling people soft for caring about the wildlife in this state makes my blood boil. The argument you raise about cats preying on humans and the need to cull the population registered high on my nutty meter --- yes they have happened, but they are happening because we --- you -- are building your homes in their range and dropping all that tasty garbage around thats like ringing a dinner bell for animals to come visiting. When they do, you call the cops or the "Game Warden" and BANG BANG BANG. Problem solved. Just because we breed more quickly and have no problem invading the territory of native species does not mean we are right to do so.
CJ March 01, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Brad- My synopsis is reinforced by your post. Thanks for proving my point.
Chris Nicholson March 01, 2012 at 03:36 PM
@Brad: I understand your logic (which only applies if you think animals have rights, which I reject), but when should we first have implemented your framework? Was the development and human population growth on this continent (at steep steep cost to ALL indigenous species) for last 300 years OK, but we somehow need to stop now? How does that make sense? If the "correct" approach was ALWAYS to NOT disturb animal habitat to benefit humans, then shouldn't we correct/reverse the prior wrongs? Why are (plentiful and not endangered) Cougars special? Is it ok to kill deer? bears? wild boar? cows? chickens? moles? rats? mosquitos? trees? I am curious to hear a consistent and cogent framework for deciding.
Brian March 01, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I just can't believe the "anti-hunting" mentality. Also the lack of understanding of game conservation FROM the anti-hunting community. Hunters helped more than anyone to bring back elk and deer populations when they were almost destroyed as settlers moved west; only NOW to be threatened by the morons who unleased ruthless killing wolves that are now in MT, ID, CO, WA, WY. Have you ever seen a wolf pack take out a doe and her fawn? As for cats in California, they need to be managed (thinned) out as well. They have not been "managed" in 30 years. When some famous actress becomes a snack, maybe the politicians will review cougar management again. Newsom is a joke and has no experience on game management or game conservation; all he knows is politics. Do you know, just this year, the waterfowl population in the pacific flyway was the highest on recorded record; thanks to organizations like DU and CWA that raise money, through hunters, to buy land and help in wildlife management. Lastly, if anyone against hunting and conservation has ever had a chunk of meat, you should be ashamed of yourself. As a dear "vegan" friend of mine said, "I get it. I'd rather see animals live better open-range lives for a few years and be taken, then see beak-less chickens or see cows laying in their own manure being executed via hammer or guillotine."
Nousch March 01, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Brian, to tie to your comment "newsom is a joke" here are two quotes from SF Weekly article: Newsom -- who last week admitted his government position was kinda pointless -- made use of his time and penned a letter to Richards today, telling him that he clearly cannot serve as the president of Fish and Game Commission while being such an avid hunter of mountain lions -- anywhere. He also said: "As you may know, my father Judge William Newsom is a long-time mountain lion advocate and past president of the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation. Additionally, I have personally worked for the protection of these majestic animals and their habitat." Not to add oil to the fire... Gavin needs to make better use of his time. Perhaps deal w real problems?
Brian March 01, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Like I said, Newsom is a joke.
El Cucuy March 01, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Chris -- I think that in your third sentence is the stuff that helps us get somewhere. We really do need to have this public discussion -- and I don't just mean here in the comments section on this one story on this website. Californians need to be talking about this stuff. Are some animals more important -- and thus worthy of more government protection -- because they are more wild or noble or revered or snuggly or anthropomorphic or whatever? Based on our current laws, one would assume that our societal answer to this is "yes, to an extent." Like it or not, there is a gradient of worth that we assign to the animal kingdom -- sometimes based on perceptions in popular culture and other times strictly defined by the laws we've created. It's why dog fighting is perceived as a worse crime than chicken fighting, and why we frown on eating horse and dog but not pigs and sheep. Richards is very good at pushing people's buttons. The photo of him with the dead lion is absurdist performance art. It's incredibly provocative. He's forced regular people who don't ever think about this stuff to start thinking about this stuff. That photo should be blown up and hung at SF MOMA.
El Cucuy March 01, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Keep in mind that this grandstanding by Newsom comes amidst his complaints that the California Lieutenant Governor is an impotent seat that should be dissolved, unless the structure of the executive branch is reformed to allow Gov. and Lt. Gov. to run as a team on the same ticket. Maybe's he's using this opportunity to demonstrate just how impotent his office really is. Sometimes the only way to save something is to destroy it.
Chris Nicholson March 01, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Newsom is a shrew politician who knows that he needs to keep his name/face in the public eye if he is to achieve his next milestone. This story was just a convenient vehicle to cause a stir and get the lights shining on him for 15 more minutes. Simple as that.
Carson March 01, 2012 at 08:46 PM
After reading all these responses I have concluded that CA is the problem. What a dumb law to not allow "permit only" hunting of cats. It would create revenue instead of costing money to have "professional" DFG hunters take out the deprivation hunts. I`ll add that hunting with dogs is no easy task. Last time I was in MT I hunted cats with dogs and hiked through snow up to my waist for miles before getting my cat. It was a 10 hour day when finished and most of it was hiking in snow. By the way, cat meat ranks right on top with elk meat for great taste. Most of our earlier frontiersmen preferred it over beef I am told and I don`t doubt that one bit. The "no hunting of mt lion law in Ca was based purely on emotion and not logic.
Brad Katkowsky March 01, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Turns out this yahoo is a real estate developer. Imagine that.
CJ March 01, 2012 at 09:34 PM
You're just adding to the evidence Brad. You say that like some 20yo Cal Student just back from an OWS meeting.
Brad Katkowsky March 01, 2012 at 09:43 PM
And yet, CJ, I've been hunting for 30 years on pioneer lands my family has held for generations. And never once did I feel the need to tree and kill a cat. If I support some impression you may have of me, have fun playing with your stereotype. I've got a pretty good take on what you're all about too, but I'll stick to the argument at hand.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) March 01, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Gents -- So far so good here. Let's not resort to cyber-dueling pistols at 30 paces, please... and keep on topic. Carry on,
Margie Liberty March 07, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I'm sorry to say that Fish and Game has become the enemy of We The People and this is just one more way to get rid of someone who does support the people. If they are successful in firing this man,who has truly acted like a jerk, and appoint another radical environmentalist, it allows them to get on with more of their repressive policies. I will choose a jerk any day over someone who talks nice while supporting policies that further tighten the noose around our necks
Brad Katkowsky March 07, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Not sure I understand where "Margie" stands on this issue but I agree Richards did his thinking with his rifle and that makes no sense to me. If another "radical environmentalist" is someone who supports the preservation of wildlife and is opposed to tracking, treeing and assassinating a cougar as it watches the dogs circle its tree then I guess you have to put me down with the radicals even though my hunting buddies won't believe it. For the record, there's a difference between hunting and ego killing.... and this was an ego kill. Turned my stomach to see that animal wasted this way. Holding it up to celebrate the kill made me embarrased for Richards.
Margie Liberty March 07, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The goal of the Environmentalists is to keep WE THE PEOPLE out of as much as of the planet as possible. Stirring your animosity of hunters works until you find out you can't do the things on the land that you like to do. Today there is a story in the WSJ about denying water to ski resorts which should, in the long run, do away with that sport. Golf is high on their list to destroy. This Clean Water Initiative is a big part of their plans and I hope all property owners will vote no on it. To be very clear, I do not support needless torture of animals. I do support the right to hunt. The media, as usual, has pumped up this story to arouse just the feelings you are experiencing. I hope you will resist and find out the details for yourself. A very good movie to watch is "Crying Wolf". It is explanatory.
Brad Katkowsky March 07, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Richards has stated his position pretty clearly. I oppose it. And I don't need the media to tell me what is wrong with my sport or country. I make my own decisions. Hinting otherwise is an insult. I've been thinking (clearly, I think) since I was five.
Margie Liberty March 07, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I am sorry if I offended you and I hope you will forgive me.
Zoe Claire March 07, 2012 at 07:23 PM
You know, it's just so refreshing to see a civil apology here. Hopefully you have started a trend!!
CJ March 08, 2012 at 06:31 PM
To close this thread- A packed house gathered at today's California Fish and Game Commission meeting at Mission Inn in Riverside. The meeting is the first since the fallout surrounding the killing of a mountain lion by Daniel Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission. The majority of the attendees were in support of Dan and he remains with CFG Commission. Sanity prevails.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop July 28, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Two men go to the zoo. One salivates and secretly wishes he'd met these creatures under different circumstances. The other admires the beauty of their form and function and the complex diversity they represent. They both stop by a Safeway on the way home, in order to feed the family. Which represents the future destination of human sensitivities and which represent a desperate grip on the ancient past? In the animistic world view, found in hunter-gatherer cultures, the human being is often regarded as on a roughly equal footing with other animals, plants, and natural forces. Therefore, it is morally imperative to treat these agents with respect. In this world view, humans are considered a part of nature, rather than superior to, or separate from it. On the other hand, the superior human hunts for ego gratification and spreads death indiscriminately through the forest, sometimes with dogs or helicopters. As a separate entity, he sees the world as limitless, to do with as he pleases. And then there's the guy that smugly asserts his right to do any damn thing he pleases in the name of freedom and righteousness. We all know where that leads. In all their mushy little minds, they really know it is all teetering on a precarious balance in an environment so delicate that one sun storm could kill us all.
Daniel Black November 15, 2012 at 01:00 AM
We being the species on top of the podium means that we get to define the rights of the other species. Animals only have the rights we give them. But it is our duty to God and our duty to the people that come after us to use this power to preserve as much of the natural world as we can. Hunting for sport does not sound like fun to me. I like to look at animals. (I do sometimes get a small sense of pleasure when I sucsesfully hunt non-native birds that come to my yard, but that is because I know what they do both directly and indirectly to our native species). When it comes to this argument here, the man did everything within the law. He, being the head of an agency that deals with hunting should be required to have hunting experience for his position. The goal of the fish and game commission is not to stop hunting, but to make it as safe as possible, and keep any negative impact on the environment to a minimum. (besides, hunters cannot just go anywhere in California and hunt, there are defined boundaries). There are other California agencies specifically designed to protect the environment, but the commission is to govern hunting and fishing. They are similar, but definitely not the same thing. He should not lose his job. -California resident, and Park Management student (with hopes of being a park ranger)
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 15, 2012 at 06:53 AM
Anyone hired to head an agency that deals with 'management' of lower case animals should operate with a philosophical position based on respect for their right to exist. It is tremendously arrogant to believe they need 'management' in the first place. Without man's clumsy, brutal disrespect for the environment and all its creatures, they would live in a naturally balanced continuum. Enter man and his meaningless, egocentric murder of defenseless creatures in the name of 'sport' and you cross so many lines of decency and integrity that the position is beyond explanation and justification. This guy clearly lacks even a modicum of respect for the animals he pretends to manage. And to hunt them down using dogs just adds another layer of ineptitude to the equation. He is an embarrassment and an shameless idiot. I say throw him out there in mountain lion territory, perhaps with a bow and arrow to offset the animal stealth, agility, strength and cunning and a knife to equate with the lion's teeth and claws and let them coexist for a season. I have no doubt who would survive.
Chris Nicholson November 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM
@Fritz: So Fish & Game officials should oppose the killing of Fish & Game? Odd position. Which is preferred: (i) a cow penned and fattened without ever experiencing the life her genetic programming drives her to seek, until she is slaughtered, or (ii) a doe born in the wild, running free as nature intended until "lights out" when a hunter's bullet painlessly dropped her where she is standing, without fear or warning?
TMoraga November 15, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Chris your not a hunter are you? You don't hut Doe's for obvious reasons.
Chris Nicholson November 15, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Ha ha. Good point. No. Not a hunter. I like guns and am not morally opposed to hunting-- just never drawn to it.
TMoraga November 15, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I don't hunt or even own guns. But like most CA natives grew up with it and spend lots of time tromping around the woods. I've seen three Mountain lions in my life so far. One while hiking in the Marble Mountains as a kid "Deep Lake" look it up. The hidden Jem of CA. One while Mountain Biking in Bidwell park which was a very close encounter that had the cat scrambling up the hill and two of us on bikes diving down the hill all of us going as fast as we could in opposite directions. 3rd one was Mount Tam mid week during a rain storm. All examples as to why I don't hike, run etc with ear buds in my ears. Like most idiots I see on trails today.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 16, 2012 at 01:52 AM
The man's behavior is unprofessional and embarrassing. Fish and Game is not referred to as the Gill-Netting Fish and Shooting Treed Mountain Lions and other Game Commission. Most authentic hunters would see this behavior as sacrilegious. I am not a hunter. If it was how food was obtained instead of the proliferation of supermarkets, I would hunt rather than starve. This jerk brings to mind these rich, fat guys that pay big dollars to "hunt" fenced, stocked reserves where George Shearing, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles could bag their limits by blasting away in the dark. It is an insult to all wild things and the considerate people that hunt for game management (And actually eat what they track down and outwit), or the removal of rogue animals from populated areas. You know exactly what I mean CN and are just doing your "high road" routine. It is mostly entertaining, but on this issue I see it as foolish and inappropriate.


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