SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards says that there is "zero chance" he will resign over a photograph showing him grinning as he holds up the body of a mountain lion he shot, killed and ate in Idaho, where, unlike California, it is legal to hunt the big cats.
California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards says that there is "zero chance" he will resign over a photograph showing him grinning as he holds up the body of a mountain lion he shot, killed and ate in Idaho recently.
In a letter sent Tuesday addressed to Democratic state Assemblyman Ben Hueso, one of dozens of public officials who called for Richards' resignation in recent days, Richards blasted lawmakers and others for their criticism of his hunting expedition and mocked their condemnation of the kill.
Richards wrote that he did eat a cougar for dinner, did not use a high-powered rifle and said he has "consistently supported" conservation efforts as a commissioner when they were backed by scientific evidence. He compared his actions to a California official gambling in Nevada.
While it's legal to kill the big cats in Idaho, California has banned the hunting of mountain lions since 1972, and voters have twice renewed that restriction. After the photo surfaced online this week, at least 40 lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called for his resignation.
Newsom, in a letter, said the "actions call into question whether you can live up to the calling of your office," and "do not reflect the values of the people of California."
Richards was unapologetic.
"Do you really think a California commissioner is actually obligated to follow California laws across these United States? Really?" Richards wrote on Fish and Game letterhead in a two-page correspondence he also sent to the entire Legislature, the governor, the California secretary of Natural Resources, and members of the Fish and Game Commission.
The letter was posted on the Sierra Club website late Tuesday.
"Did I try to change California's laws subversively? Did I encourage anyone to circumvent our rules and regulations?" Richards went on. "While I respect our Fish and Game rules and regulations, my 100-percent legal activity outside California, or anyone else's for that matter, is none of your business."
Richards, who was appointed to the commission by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, also attempted to clear up some apparent misconceptions that have spread around the issue.
"And so we're perfectly clear, this hunt was not a high-fence hunt, we didn't use (four) wheel drive trucks, snow machines or ATVs to chase the cat, I did not use a high-powered rifle with a scope at 300 yards and we did dine on mountain lion for dinner, all contrary to some erroneous reports," Richards wrote. "Under your standards, all Californians who enjoy gaming in Nevada are somehow ethically challenged as true Californians and should be removed from any official position. My guess is the Legislative chambers might look a little barren should that logic prevail."
Richards also attacked lawmakers for cutting the Department of Fish and Game's budget recently, and said he will "continue to hunt and fish wherever I please."
(Contact Marisa Lagos at email@example.com.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)