Cougar-Hunting Fish and Game Commission President Is Out

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards—hunter, sportsman and 30-year veteran of the real estate industry—became the focus of intense scrutiny after he went cougar hunting in Idaho last January, bagged a big cat and sent a picture of himself posing with his dead prey to an online publication.

It is legal to hunt mountain lions in Idaho, but not in California. Forty state lawmakers thought Richards’ conduct inappropriate for the leader of a commission with a strong conservation mission, and called for his resignation in March. He resisted and was replaced as president on Wednesday by fellow commission member Jim Kellogg. Richards said he plans to remain on the panel until his term expires in six months.

Cougar hunting is the reason most often cited for Richard’s departure, but he is no stranger to controversy and political battle.

Richards, who owns Coldwell Banker Commercial Inland Empire, joined more than 130 other Republican hopefuls—including politicians Cruz Bustamante, Tom McClintock and Peter Camejo; celebrities Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mary Carey and Gary Coleman; publishers Larry Flynt and Arianna Huffington; and businessman Peter Ueberroth—in the campaign to replace Governor Gray Davis in the recall election of 2003.

Schwarzenegger won the election and Richards became a political and financial supporter of the new governor. Richards was chairman of the San Bernardino Fish and Game Commission in 2008 when Schwarzenegger appointed him to the state commission. They later had a falling out and clashed over the commission’s implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), the plan to establish restricted areas of commercial and recreational fishing along the 1,100-mile coastline.

At one point, Richards called Schwarzenegger “a forked-tongue devil” for the governor’s support of more expansive fishing closures than commercial and sportfishing interests wanted. “This just shows how corrupt this process is,” Richards said during a struggle that saw the repeated shuffling of commission member as the governor attempted to exert his influence. “This process, the Marine Life Protection Act, is so corrupt, so offensive it’s unimaginable.”

Richards, who has a history of run-ins with environmentalists, had this to say about the MLPA: “These radical, left-wing environmentalists want to put up massive reserves to keep people from fishing. It’s all being funded, this takeover of California’s marine resources, by the Packard Foundation, backed by a billionaire with nefarious intentions. They are anti-fishing, anti-hunting, anti-people.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Fish and Game Commissioner Who Killed Cougar Loses Presidency (by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times)

California Official Replaced after Killing Cougar (by Tracie Cone, Associated Press)

Cougar Hunter out as Fish & Game Leader (by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle)

Dan Richards Reveals a Little About His Outdoor Commitment (Jesse’s Hunting & Outdoors)

Commissioners (Fish and Game Commission website)

Candidates to Succeed Gray Davis if Recalled (Secretary of State)

Muck and Grime (Paul Lebowitz’s blog)

Daniel W. Richards (Our Campaigns)

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