What happens when you shoot and kill a mountain lion in Idaho? Well, nothing, it's legal -- hence the Flying B Ranch providing mountain lion hunting trips on their property for the price of $6,800 per hunter. The problem for Dan Richards, the president of the California Fish and Game Commission who shot and killed a mountain lion on Flying B's property, is not that he killed the mountain lion but that he violated California State law by going on this free hunting trip in the first place.
The law states that no public official can take gifts worth more than $420 a year. However, Richards already repaid the Flying B ranch the $6,800 hunting fee, so he's not being charged with the $5,000 worth of fines that breaking the law would have cost him.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that Gary Winuck, the enforcement chief for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, wrote in a warning letter to Richards on Thursday, "Because you did repay the donor relatively soon after the receipt of the gift, although after the 30-day window for repayment prescribed by the act, we have decided to close the case."
Richards did himself no favors when he sent the above photo of himself smiling widely while holding the dead lion to Western Outdoor News, a hunting newspaper, and telling the paper, "I'm glad it's legal in Idaho."
Killing a mountain lion may be legal in Idaho, but Richards has created many problems for himself in California by doing so. The News reports that animal welfare groups, 40 Democratic Assembly members and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have all called for Richards to resign, stating that he "ignored the will of California voters, who banned the hunting of mountain lions for sport in 1990 when they passed Proposition 117."
ThePetitionSite.com has put a petition up to have Richards removed. On their site, they state: "Richards is a questionable choice to serve in such a role for California’s Fish and Game Commission. As his biography notes, Richards is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. But now Richards has really 'gone over the line,' says The California Majority Report, after shooting a mountain lion in Idaho; it is illegal to do this in California."
The petition had 4,618 signatures as of this post.
GlobalAnimal.org is also urging people to contact California legislators to remove Richards from office.
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