CA Pro-Hunting Commissioner's Position in Jeopardy

CHC - News Source, Bear Hunting Magazine

As submitted by the California Houndsmen for Conservation

Last month, tensions over hunting erupted across the state of California when a newspaper published a photo of Dan Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, grinning ear-to-ear and holding a 155-pound mountain lion he legally killed in Idaho. Richards shot it while on a pheasant hunting trip on a ranch in Idaho. The issue came when he told the paper, ""I'm glad it's legal in Idaho." (to harvest mountain lions where as in California it was outlawed 22 years ago.)

The photo set off a maelstrom of controversy. The Humane Society, followed by 40 Democratic Assembly members and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, called for Richards' resignation, saying he showed poor judgment and mocked the will of California's voters whom he was supposed to be serving.

If Mr. Richards leaves the Commission, the Governor will appoint his replacement. It would likely be someone who sides more with the animal rights groups than sportsmen, farmers, commercial fishermen and others who have an interest in fish and game issues. Animal rights groups would probably gain majority representation (influence, votes, etc.) on the Commission as a result.

If animal rights groups gain majority representation on the Commission, they will be able to wreak havoc with hunting and fishing regulations. This will provide them with undue influence over hunting and fishing in California (seasons, bag limits, shooting/fishing hours, open/closed areas, methods of take, etc.). For example, many animal rights people oppose the use of archery and dogs for hunting.

If Mr. Richards leaves the Commission and the Governor appoints a new Commissioner who is to the liking of animal rights groups (a realistic possibility), it will:
· Open the door for animal rights groups to successfully pursue an expansion of the ban on lead ammunition for hunting, possibly even a total ban statewide.
· Open the door for animal rights groups to pursue more restrictions on hunting dog use including bans on some of the current technology (radio direction transmitters/receivers used to find lost hounds, bark collars, etc.).
· Likely result in more species being added to the endangered/protected species lists (mammals, reptiles, fish, plants, etc.) and the presence of these species in a specific geographic area would probably be used as reason to prohibit the public (i.e. – sportsmen) from entering such areas for recreational purposes. A current example of this is the Headwaters Forest in Northern California where public entrance is severely restricted.
· Facilitate obtaining Commission support for currently introduced legislation (AB 2283, Portantino) that would change the name of the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, thus statutorily reducing the importance of the Departments focus on game species and hunting.

The balance of the commission is up for grabs right now and if they remove Richards they can still appoint a pro-hunter and two anti-hunters and attempt to look balanced.

A radio station in Sacramento did a poll a few days ago on this matter and an overwhelming 90+% supporting keeping Richards. They felt that what people do on their own time, if its legal, is their business.

If you live in the state of California, the CHC lists the following as things you can do to support Rirchards:
• Contact your Assemblymember and Senator and ask them to support Commissioner Richards. To determine who your representatives are, simply visit and enter your Zip Code in the field provided.

• Contact Governor Jerry Brown at 916.445.2841 and tell him that you support Commissioner Richards.

• Contact the California Fish & Game Commission at 916.653.4899 and tell the Commission that you support Commissioner Richards.

• Attend the March 7th Commission meeting in Riverside and speak in support of Commissioner Richards. The meeting will be held at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa located at 3649 Mission Inn Avenue at 8:30 AM.

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