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Opinion
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

2/21/2012

Something is Rotten in California's Fish and Game Commission!

If Shakespeare were still alive and living in California, his famous line from Hamlet might well have read: Something is rotten in California's Fish and Game Commission!

Take the case of the Commission's newly elected President Dan Richards, a "Life Member" of the NRA, who also actively supports several hunting organizations which pass themselves off as quasi "conservation" organizations. It cost Richards thousands of dollars and a trip to Idaho, but he recently fulfilled his long-held dream of killing a mountain lion for fun. When asked about California's ban on hunting lions (Proposition 117) he proudly stated "I'm glad it's legal in Idaho."

Killing mountain lions might not be illegal in Idaho, but thanks to Proposition 117 bringing back the spoils of that hunt to California definitely is. While that landmark law may not keep him from enjoying the fruits of his blood-sport elsewhere, at least it won't end up as a rug or a conversation piece in the Golden State.

On the subject of Richards' Presidency, that came about from a highly questionable vote at the last commission meeting where only two of the five commissioners (Richards and the now former Commission President, Jim Kellogg) voted in Richards favor. Apparently Kellogg rammed Richards' election through when the other two attending Commissioners (Sutton and Baylis) abstained their vote in protest because the fifth Commissioner, and presumed successor to Kellogg, was unable to attend the meeting. Of the five commissioner's, only Richards and Kellogg have strong ties to several of California's largest hunting groups.

And it was also Richards who recently replied to MLF's inquiry into the Commission's failure to comply with Proposition 117's depredation reporting requirements for the past seven years. His, "too bad, but we aren't going to obey the law" letter cited lack of funds as the primary reason for non-compliance. Amazing how being broke has become the catch all excuse for not doing something one's supposed to do.

Fundamental changes to the Fish and Game Commission are currently under consideration as part of California's new Fish & Wildlife Strategic Vision process. Those changes include renaming the Department to reflect a broader mandate than just catering to hunting and fishing special interests, increasing the commission's membership from five commissioners to seven, and appointing commissioners who have expertise in one of the many issues that are under the jurisdiction of the Commission.

We are not sure if all this is not just "politically correct" window dressing--as has happened in too many other states--but what we have now is broken so something has to be done to protect California's wildlife resources.

Take Action! Click here to help MLF Remove Richards from the California Fish and Game Commission.



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