Dan Richards

In 1972, then California Governor Ronald Regan signed legislation banning the sport of hunting mountain lions for five years. That ban was twice renewed before the voters passed Proposition 117 in 1990, which officially made it illegal to hunt the cats in the state.

Last week, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards, traveled to Idaho where he shot a mountain lion. Legally. When the picture above started getting circulated around the ol’ internets, people of The Golden State, including former SF mayor and current lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, were calling for Richards resignation.

Pretty sticky situation if you ask me. The dude didn’t really commit any crimes, right? He did go to Idaho to kill the mountain lion. But then again, there’s the obvious part about him killing a mountain lion. Read more here.



Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

32 Responses to Dan Richards

  1. funkn' gonuts February 28, 2012 at 9:02 am #


  2. Rob February 28, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Leaving aside the issue of whether bans on hunting actually do more harm to animal populations than good, the feigned outrage over this is absurd.

    Apply the same logic to a less majestic animal. If hunting red squirrels was outlawed in a particular area due to a diminishing population, why would it be objectionable for someone to hunt them in an area where it is perfectly legal to do so?

    Even if Mr. Richards was vehemently opposed to hunting mountain lions in California, he may support mountain lion hunting as an essential wildlife management tool in other states. Or maybe he’s a hypocrite? Who cares? He didn’t break the law.

    As for Gavin Newsom, I urge him to call for the resignation of all politicians who support a state ban on gambling, yet who have gladly tried their hand at blackjack in Nevada.

  3. Chris February 28, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    He looks like a sissy holding his kitty cat. I’m sure he’s going to eat all the meat and use the fur too. I hate trophy hunting. Be a real man and hunt to put food on your table.

  4. Dan February 28, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see the issue. I guy leaglly hunted an animal in a state where you are allowed to hunt said animal. And we are calling for a resignation? If the game commish of Colorado where most streams are catch and release went to Montana and took a trout in a spot on the river where you were allowed to keep your catch would we be calling for his resignation?

    Seems like a moot point.

  5. Sarah February 28, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Since what he did was legal obviously there is no ground to stand on for him to be fired. However. The photo is gross. I’m sure there are lugheads out there beating their breasts over the demon of political correctness but to pose for such a photo conveys a lack of respect and frankly a hubris that borders on the delusional. Call it speciesism or whatever you like but he looks like a massive tool in that photo.

  6. Pete V. February 28, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    The moralists who are outraged by this completely misunderstand that the responsibility of Game and Fish departments is not to protect the sacred lives of wild animals, but to effectively manage populations in accordance with the laws of the state (and country).

    This “scandal” makes it clear that anti-hunting groups’ positions are not based in science, but driven by morality. The liberals calling for Richards’s removal are no different from the ultra-conservatives who lobby against pro-abortion judges or teaching evolution in public schools.

    Richards has science (and the law) on his side, and if that ends up not being enough, we will have weakened our state.

  7. Randy Marsh February 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I think the real issue here is whether hunting a shrinking population of cougars should be legal at all, ANYWHERE. Cougar hunting is prohibited in much of Central and South America where they are and have been a venerated species. It is permitted in every US state from the Rockies to the Pacific (except for CA), where they are veiwed as a nuissance species. Cougar populations do not need to be “monitored” by corrupt/inefficient state departments and niether do wolve, grizzlies, elk, or red squirrels. Their population will be limited by the food supply available to them and thier natural predators. Cougars have an irreplaceable ecological role that humans cannot simply offset with deer hunting permits. They are at the pinnacle of the food web so without them and other top predators, all we have left is an abundace of little red squirrels.

  8. Pete V. February 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Randy, I agree that ideally wildlife populations wouldn’t need to be monitored by governments, but the reality is that they need to be, because of the inevitable impact humans have on the populations. Humans compete with wildlife for resources, and without some protection we would dominate every other species without a contest. We would hunt (see: American Bison), destroy habitat (see: ANWAR), and pollute (see: lead bullets & California Condors) every other species out of existence.

    Wildlife management departments — when they’re doing their jobs — are balancing the inevitable impact these human activities have with the desire to preserve the same activities well into the future. Ethical hunters are the ultimate conservationists — who cares more about preserving elk populations (and therefore their habitats) than elk hunters, who want to keep hunting elk year after year, and then hand that ability down to their kids?

    You’re right that without government intervention, wildlife populations would be limited by food supplies. But those food supplies would be limited by human ambivalence, ignorance, and greed.

  9. Randy Marsh February 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Dan Richards is neither an ethical hunter (see photo above), nor does he have science on his side since there is an obvious imbalance of wildlife populations that he is perpetuating. If the responsibilty of game and fish departments is to effectively manage wildlife populations, then they are absolutley not doing their job. What wild creatures need is for the majority of the conserved land we have left to be a sanctary where no hunting/fishing of any kind of any specie is allowed. Places where life can exist as it was intended to. You “ethical” hunters can have some of the fringe area where you can screw up the natural order of things, I guess. Humans (like Dan and his 40 caliber rifle) are the ones that need to be managed, not the animals.

  10. Pete V. February 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I understand how the photo might be shocking to a non-hunter, but what about it tells you that he’s not ethical?

    And how is he perpetuating an imbalance of wildlife populations? Are you suggesting that because it’s illegal to hunt cougars in California, the deer population in California is somehow more in balance than it is in other Western states? Do you have data to prove that?

    I agree that humans need to be managed, and that’s exactly what most G&F policies are designed to do — i.e., they manage the number of animals that HUMANS can kill in a given area and period of time.

    Unfortunately, without that, life (which includes humanity, last time I checked) as it was “intended” to be lived would mean the annihilation of basically every species but humans.

    Humans are predators. Not acknowledging that is the biggest insult to the “natural order of things” that I can imagine.

  11. Abomb February 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Who cares? He did it legally. Hunting of game is practically required anymore to maintain the appropriate number of animals given the wilderness available to them. Perhaps California should begin permitting mountain lion again to minimize the number of animals coming into civilization and killing hikers/ mountain bikers. I’m not even a hunter although I have been elk hunting and javelina hunting once before. It’s a necessary “evil” if that what you think it is. As long as animals are killed humanely I have no issue with it. Heck, the wild game lives a better life than the animals used to provide meat for most of civilization anyway…

  12. Randy Marsh February 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Modern humans are much different than wild animals and began their separation from nature gradually with the invention of certain technologies: agriculture, government, the 40 caliber rifle, the internal combustion engine, etc. Now, humans have an unfair and unatural advantage over their prey. And we now have the responsbility to protect it as master of our domain, that is if we want to see it intact the way it was intended to be.

    You’re not a caveman, are you, Pete? Nope, you and Dan here drive your GMC pickup complete with a gun rack into the woods with the AC on, post up with a bottle of booze until something comes along that you can shoot at so that you can protect it for future generations.

    Modern hunting isn’t a level playing field anymore. It’s made extremely easy by modern technology and politics. It doesn’t resemble traditional hunting, its not ethical and its not helping.

  13. Scott February 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Whenever I see a photograph of some sportsman grinning over his kill, I am always impressed by the striking moral and esthetic superiority of the dead animal to the live one.

    – Edward Abbey

  14. Pete V. February 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I was with you until the “master of our domain” thing. I choose to live my life — to the extent that is even possible these days — as a participant in nature, not a master of it. In any case, I do agree that we have a tremendous advantage over our prey, and that without regulation, humanity would exploit that advantage to an extreme that would be bad for everyone, humans included.

    I don’t have a GMC or a gun rack. I choose to hunt as far into the backcountry as I can get, with as few “advantages” as possible. I don’t drink while I hunt. But none of that is relevant to this discussion — I do concede that many hunters do not share my values. What you should acknowledge, though, is that most hunters (at least those of us in the West) are primarily conservationists. We have a vested interest in preserving wild places. It’s not just ideology — it’s a practical interest. We’re not your adversaries, we’re your allies. If you’d stop mocking us long enough to recognize that we share the same interests, we might get something done together.

  15. TWY February 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Humans began “screwing up the natural order of things” nearly 50, 000 years ago.
    We did a pretty good job of killing off most of North America’s megafauna without “modern hunting techniques”.


    So lets not pretend that modern hunters cause all our current problems. Habitat destruction is the largest contributing factor. I agree with Pete, most hunters do more good than harm. Without hunters, wildlife would have fewer places to roam.
    Dan Richards should keep his job.

  16. tupper February 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    legal or not I think any one who kills a mountain lion or any animal just to kill it ( or to prove how mighty they are) is a scumbag.Lots of scumbags have jobs in government so he should keep his job.

  17. Greg D. February 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Richards did nothing wrong – perfectly legal. Tree huggers are pissed – surprise, surprise.

    Did any of you hypocrites call for the resignation of Gavin “Two Timing” Newsom Twosome when he was caught cheating with his campaign managers’ wife? Oh, that’s different though right? Get off your high horses.

  18. Mike February 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    He needs to step down. I have no issue with hunting providing you eat the meat or have another compelling reason to kill the animal—such as it has killed three of your baby calves or something. He is in neither cohort. Dude needs to go.

  19. Pete V. February 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Mike, what if he used the hide to make a blanket or rug? That’s utility at least on the order of eating the meat, right?

  20. Randy Marsh February 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    He’s not even legally allowed to bring any part of that animal to is home in California as per Prop 117.

    It is now illegal to take, injure, possess, transport, import of sell any lion or any part or product of a lion. Trophies taken in other states cannot be imported, nor can lions be possessed by game breeders.

  21. Andrea February 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I find the childish gloating look on his face very alienating.

  22. Pete V. March 1, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I think 90% of the reaction to this story has been caused by the photo. Of course, photos are notorious for taking reality out of context. There’s more to the story of this hunt than one photo can show.

  23. Scott March 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Pete V. -

    Good response. I think the reason many conservationists fail to see hunters as allies is because many hunters seem to want to conserve particular animals only so that the hunters can continue to kill them. We need more hunters like you, who seem to respect the value and importance that are inherent to nature and wildlife.

    Greg D. -

    What a ridiculous straw-man. Gavin Newsom has nothing to do with this. It’s a really dumb generalization that anyone who expresses pro-animal or pro-conservation attitudes must automatically be bereft of any sort of social ethics or moral responsibility.

    I think most people have a problem with this because Dan Richards plays a large part (at least in theory) in the conservation and protection of mountain lions in his state. So seeing him go across state lines to kill a mountain lion makes people question where his heart actually lies on the issue of mountain lion preservation.

    Many people were similarly disgusted when they realized that Tracy Truman (the man responsible for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4F4U_78TfQ) was the Vice Chairman of the Wildlife Advisory Board in Clark County, Nevada.

  24. Greg D. March 2, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Pete –
    Twosome Newsom has nothing to do with this? Did you not read the posted article? He’s one of the biggest proponents of Richards’ resignation. You might want to look into that.

  25. Pete V. March 2, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Thanks Scott.

    I agree that people must assume that because Richards killed a cougar he isn’t serious about cougar conservation, but I think they’re wrong to do so. Like Rob said above, conservation is often a regional issue, and killing a cougar in Idaho does not mean Richards doesn’t take his job in California seriously. Even if he disagrees with the law against hunting cougars in California — which I’m guessing he probably does — since when did administrators of the law need to agree with every law they’re sworn to uphold? Imagine if that were really the standard. What thinking person would have a place in government?

    Also, it looks like he ate the animal after the kill:


  26. mackenzie March 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Fish and Game is called Squish and Maim for a reason. Note the term “game” which implies harvesting, not protection. Also, the oh-so-obvious it’s almost a cliche point about him eating it as justification for the action is just a soylent green mentality. Why does the “right” to shoot and kill a wild animal trump my right to simply know they exist and are out there playing their role in the real outdoors (as opposed to the online outdoors)?

  27. Scott March 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Greg D. -

    I was describing Newsom within the context of what you wrote about him:

    “Did any of you hypocrites call for the resignation of Gavin “Two Timing” Newsom Twosome when he was caught cheating with his campaign managers’ wife? Oh, that’s different though right? Get off your high horses.”

    It’s one thing to disagree with him with respect to Dan Richards, but it’s an entirely different, asinine thing to assume that anyone who wasn’t happy with Dan Richards must also be the type of person who wouldn’t bat an eye at adultery, etc. I suggest you be more accurate with your outrage.

    And Pete, again I agree with you – I understand that Richards acted within his rights and I haven’t suggested that he resign. And yes, conservation is regional. I think the underlying issue is that people who are passionate about mountain lion conservation would like to believe that the person responsible for their preservation ideally would be someone who wouldn’t be interested in killing them as soon as he entered a place where it was legal to do so. It doesn’t mean Richards is bad at his job, it just makes people uneasy.

    This is an extreme example, but bear with me. If a local kindergarten teacher frequently traveled overseas to purchase child pornography where it wasn’t illegal to do so, he probably wouldn’t be welcome back at his school, even if he never committed any crimes against his students or acted inappropriately while on the job. The outrage felt by the parents would transcend all state lines, even if the teacher’s actions didn’t.

  28. Greg D, March 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Are you even for real? I think your assertion of mountain lions to kindergarten kids and child pornography is the epitome of asinine. Scares me that you even think they belong in the same context. Good grief.

  29. Randy Marsh March 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    TWY, The US Academy of Sciences just released a study about the mega fauna extinction 50,00 years ago, stating that one cannot blame the extinction of certain species on migratory humans alone, those species were not able to adapt to the changing climate:


    The line of reasoning that hunters are motivated by conservation and preservation is hard for me to accept. Ok so some of the money you spend on hunting permits etc goes toward land conservation, good job. But, you then go out and shoot its inhabitants?! Especially a cougar that can naturally even out the overpopulation of deer and the like! That’s taking one step forward and two steps back.

    Fish and Game departments are being commissioned by hunters, not naturalists, and they are the ones who set the take quotas. So whose interests do you think they are looking out for? And what kind of human eats cougar meat? …Cavemen? Sounds like a horrible dinner to me. I bet he also took the hide with him back to CA. Who would stop him? His employees? Trophy hunting for interior decorating purposes, or for thrills, or for profit, or to enable an inefficient state department, is not a sensible use of a perfectly good cougar.

  30. Scott March 7, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    Greg D, that tiny dot you see in the sky is my point flying miles above your head.

  31. Eric March 7, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    There is something psychologically troubling about the desire to trophy hunt. And it’s written all over Dan Richards’ face. What of value is gained in trivial killing?

  32. korn March 9, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Thank you Randy Marsh, for introducing some reason and intelligence into this conversation.
    And as for the guy that commented on how, he, Richards, looks like a sissy holding the lion…let’s find another term, why don’t we. Otherwise we just come across like homophobes.

Leave a Reply