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Thursday, March 01, 2012



WON Staff Writer

(Updated Feb 28, 3:00 pm)

Speaking calmly this morning from the cozy confines an office filled with mementos of an outdoor life, Dan Richards left no room for doubt. The new president of the Fish and Game Commission will not resign his position over allegations he is unfit to serve for participating in a legal mountain lion hunt in Idaho.

On Friday, forty state assemblymen lead by Ben Hueso and Jared Huffman signed a letter demanding Richards’ step down. They were later joined by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who acted as governor while Jerry Brown was out of state.

Richards released his formal response this afternoon in a letter addressed to Hueso, it reads in part:

"There is ZERO chance I would consider resigning my position as President of the California Fish and Game Commission and it is my sincere hope that you and your colleagues
reassess your request and instead work positively with our Commission and Department for the betterment of the resources we're entrusted to manage."

"While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100 percent legal activity out of California, or anyone else's for that matter, is none of your business."

Richards goes on to clear the record - see the copy of the letter below for full details - and goes on to point out:

"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."

During this morning's interview, Richards mentioned he appreciates the support he's receiving from the hunting and fishing community, many of whom feel the same way.

"I'm hearing from a lot of regular people out there, some of them not even fishermen or hunters, asking why the legislature would spend ten seconds on this," he said.

Richards came under fire when the San Jose Mercury News publicized A photo of a smiling Richards posing with his cougar, igniting a firestorm of criticism from the Humane Society of United States as well as other preservationist groups. The photo originally appeared deep in the pages of WON.

Huffman and others charged Richards with making an in-your-face political statement on the California’s mountain lion hunting moratorium, but Richards said that wasn’t the case. He was simply sharing the experience with fellow outdoorsmen in a hunting and fishing publication – an extension of story-telling around a hunting camp fire. As a matter of course, like many hunters and anglers Richards and his friends regale each other with tales of their most memorable successes in the field.

Richards said he isn’t lobbying to overturn the mountain lion moratorium. He respects California’s laws and the democratic process. Nor did send the photo or share the details of his hunt with HSUS or the mainstream press. He wasn’t trying to offend.

"The facts are irrefutable and I'm extremely comfortable with the facts," he said.

A WON story set for the March 2 issue explores the circumstances of the Richards hunt and traces the preservationist reaction, finding that HSUS and the grandstanding Huffman fanned the flames as part of an ongoing campaign to remove Richards from the commission.

Back to Richards. He firmly maintains he’s done nothing illegal or immoral in abiding by Idaho's local game laws, and he respects California's, including the lion moratorium.

"I'm not a member of the mountain lion society of California. I'm completely respectful of our laws, rules and regulations. I didn't invite any of them to go on a hunt with me," he said.

“I’m not going to apologize for a legal hunt," he added.

Richards said his work on the commission reflects his concern for the sporting community. "I've recognized the need for a common sense approach to the real issues that face us."

The legislature can forcibly remove Richards from his post only by majority votes in the assembly and senate. Such a move is unprecedented. According to legislative analysts who spoke on condition on anonymity, no serving commissioner has been legislatively recalled in the state's long history. And Richards has committed no crime, making any such attempt highly suspect.

Reader Comments
Clap..Clap...Clap!! Good for you Richards, thank you for standing up to defend your position as the entire hunting and fishing community is behind you on your completely legal hunt and proud that these envrinonmental wackos can't deter you from doing your job.
Christopher Davis
Thanks for all you do buddy. Never quit....
Tom Bradford
I completely support Commissioner Richards. He should run for Governor.
Brian kempkes
Way to go! Thank you for standing up and being a strong voice for the outdoorsman and woman community!
Dan keep up the good work and call on me if you need support. I'm willing to come sit in that assembly or other location and have your back. Let me know when and I'll get the day off work because I still have a job and you will too if I can do anything about it. I'll be sure and bring some friends too....
Ron mcGuire
I am 100% behind D.W. Richards ... Don't back down!
Mark Harman
Fight this preposterous situation and ask out those who are wrecking California in this liberal foolishness, If this goes any further file suit for violation of your constitutional rights. Gov Brownose and his ilk cannot be allowed to replace you with someone from down south who will take our water and destroy our fisheries, that is why they are trying to do this to you, water sent south is money and power for Sacramento, while we grow crops for nations that hate us we are destroying our soil and water, why do we continue to use illegal aliens to grow crops we don't personally consume and now have to give our tax revenue to house illegals in our prison system, that 8 billion that this consumes a year would hire a lot of officers and teachers for our communities, Gov Brownose is a fool and continues to act in character, This is a fire-able offense, not hunting legally. I just plain get infuriated thinking about this.... My Prayers out for you.MG
I think Dan Richards is 100% correct -- for the California Legislature to spend ten seconds on this item when it refuses to do its real work is ludicrous.
I am an attorney licensed to practice in California for over 40 years. I have represented many parties over the years on both sides of major issues before the California Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Fish and Game. Although I have never hunted I am a devote fisherman and have represented both commercial and sportfishing entities. I fully support Mr. Richards right to legally hunt and am of the opinion that he has the right to do so without having to justify his rights or having to resign this important position.
Earl W. Warren
Richards, Thanks for killing a mountain lion. You sure set a good example. What are you going to kill next? Every thing that's legal? Keep it up and there won't be anything left. Were you elected or did some jerk or friend appoint you? Don't ever count on my vote!
joe campbell
This is an email I just fired off at Newsom: I demand you resign immediately because of your ignorant ranting about hunting mountain lions. Many are killed legally under depredation permits every year in California using the same hunting method that Richards used in Idaho. Since lion hunting was banned in California, the number of mountain lion attacks on humans has dramatically escalated because lions no longer fear humans. Retract your unfounded attack on Richards or you will be ousted by Californians who have a clue about the realities of game management.
Matt Horns
Thank you, Dan. It is so refreshing to know we actually have a sportsman looking after our resources for a change, instead of a politically or financially motivated one. May your reign be long!!!
Tim Merrifield
As an Idaho resident, angler & hunter, I applaud Dan's resolution to remain commissioner. I realize that it may seem that Idaho has no stake in this, but the "animal rights" activists portrayed this LEGAL & ETHICAL hunt as a "canned" hunt...not only attempting to give Commissioner Richards a bad name, but Idaho's hunting guides as well. I tried to read California's hunting regs, but got mired down in the technicalities of zones and such...but I did gather that since Cali has a different approach to their wildlife conservation, then the inflammatory remarks by HSUS would create a firestorm over what is basically a non-issue. I read some on Commissioner Richards voting record, and it seems that he is in line with California's laws & plan for wildlife management... GOOD for him, and I hope he remains a commissioner, because California needs persons who can balance the needs of their wildlife with the needs of it's people...
Good for you. Stand your ground! It would be interesting to know how many signed that letter that have participated in activities outside our state that are also considered illegal in Cal? Nice Cat!
Harold Whitmore
Finally, a commissioner with balls! I will never vote or support in any way any legislators who attempts to remove commissioner Richards from office
Andy Johnston
First, congratulations on your beautiful cat. Hundreds of Idaho Mule Deer, Elk, numerous domestic stock, pets and grandchildren thank you. This hunt you went on may not have been politically motivated but unfortunately we live in a political world and your actions should have been. The HSUS attempt at infiltrating the Department of Fish and Game was political. By you exercising your LEGAL hunting privilege you should not fall pray to the HSUS agenda. If California politicians would grow spines and not cave in to every outside radical group (HSUS) this state would be in much better shape
Dennis Corvello
Too bad the mountain lion didn't eat Richards. He is a disgrace to Californians. He needs to go!
Branson Huntger
I believe they should look into Mr Hueso's case file and where and what he has spent taxpayers money on. Did he do something illegal? And if so, then he is the one that should be fired or resign. I applaud you, Mr. Richards for standing firm for doing something legal and within your rights as a citizen of California and the USA, to do, on your own time and with your own money. Bill Kauffman, Lake Forest
Bill Kauffman
I can't believe this is even a discussion!!!The facts are facts-no matter which side of the fence your on!You've done nothing wrong! People need to stop looking at these things personally! Fight for your RIGHTS to hunt and BEAR ARMS! You've got my vote.
Dean Inmon
Great work Mr. Richards!!!
Way to go!Stand your ground! California Legislature should not spend even one second on this item.I will never vote or support in any way any legislators who attempts to remove commissioner Richards from office.
Emilyan Yanchev
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