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Cougar killing puts spotlight on head of state game panel

Hunting

Cougar killing puts spotlight on head of state game panel

The head of the California Fish and Game Commission has come under attack for killing a mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho, with the lieutenant governor joining animal rights groups and Sacramento lawmakers calling for his resignation.

Commission President Daniel W. Richards of Upland ignited the controversy when he sent a photo of himself, smiling as he held up the dead lion on a snowy mountain, to a popular hunting website. Hunting mountain lions is legal in Idaho but has been outlawed in California, where regulations regarding the cats are overseen by the commission.

“Your actions have raised serious questions about whether you respect the laws of the people of California and whether you are fit to adequately enforce those laws,” Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights) wrote in a letter signed by 40 Democrats in the state Assembly.

In a scathing response Tuesday, Richards told Hueso he had no plans to resign and defended his tenure on the commission. He also blasted the Legislature’s budget cuts to his department, saying they demonstrate a “lack of concern” for the resources the agency manages that he said is “shameful.”

“While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100% legal activity outside of California, or anyone else’s for that matter, is none of your business,” Richards wrote.

He said he had never proposed to repeal the ban on sport hunting of mountain lions in California.

“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 with our commission and department for the betterment of the resources we’re entrusted to manage,” Richards wrote in the letter, a copy of which he sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Richards, a member of the National Rifle Assn., was appointed to the five-member state commission in 2008 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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