Outrage in California over Republican official's mountain lion hunt

Hunting mountain lions is illegal in California - thanks to animal-rights groups and liberal voters. So when the president of the California Fish and Game Commission wanted to go on a mountain lion hunt, he recently headed to Idaho where it's legal to kill the big cats.

Unfortunately for Daniel W. Richards, a photo of him proudly holding a lion he bagged in Northern Idaho was published in a hunting and fishing magazine, Western Outdoor News -- and it was quickly spotted by California's animal lovers and rights activists. They flew into fits over the animal's death and the pleasure Richards derived from hunting it down.

Now, California's animal-rights lobbies and at least one Democratic lawmaker are calling for the San Bernardino County Republican's head -- claiming his hunt in Northern Idaho was a disgrace because, well, it somehow showed disrespect towards Californians. In 1990, voters passed Proposition 117, making it illegal to hunt mountain lions.

"It's not illegal (in Idaho). But he's thumbed his nose at the people of California," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told the San Jose Mercury News. "He's supposed to be representing the interests of all California citizens. It seems like such a tone-deaf action. What part of 'no' doesn't he understand?"

State lawmaker Jared Huffman, a Democrat from San Rafael and chairman of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, said he may introduce a motion to remove Richards -- a life member of the National Rifle Association who was appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.

"He's thumbing his nose at California law," Huffman told the Mercury News."He's mocking it. Frankly, I think he should face the music and step down. He's done something that's a disgrace to his position and to responsible hunters in California."

The Mercury News noted that Richards, 59, has been an "outspoken advocate for expanding hunting, often clashing with environmental and animal welfare groups."

Richards, who earns a living in real estate sales and development, is remaining mum on controversy. But according to Western Outdoor News, he had a wonderful time on his hunt in the "the wicked terrain of Idaho's Flying B Ranch to fulfill a long-held goal."

Indeed, the Coldwell Banker commercial broker related: "It was the most physically exhausting hunt of my lifetime. Eight hours of cold weather hiking in very difficult terrain. I told the guides I appreciated the hard work. They were unbelievably professional, first class all the way."

Western Outdoor News added: "Richards said he took the big cat over iron sights using a Winchester Centennial lever action .45 carbine. Asked about California's mountain lion moratorium, Richards didn't hesitate. "I'm glad it's legal in Idaho." The ranch charges $6,800 for a 7 day/8 night mountain lion hunt.

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding Richards' recall has brought together outraged animal lovers from all over the world.

"Dan Richards must be recalled. He doesn't deserve to represent the State of California and it's wildlife," wrote Mrs. Tiffany Wilson of California.

"What a sick human being," added Ms. Michelle Kimber of Australia.

What they and other animal lovers and advocates fail to understand is that Richards, like many hunters, is a conservationist. In his state biography, he notes he's a life member of the The Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep; and is a supporting member of Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and various other conservation organizations.

Even so, Richards probably could use some lessons in public relations if he wants to remain in office in California.

Speaking of mountain lions, at Big Bend National Park in West Texas, officials are attempting to track down and kill a mountain lion that recently attacked and injured a 6-year-old boy as he walked with his mom and dad.

Imagine the outrage from PETA when it is finally killed - all for simply behaving, well, like a hungry mountain lion. 

That darn cat.