UPLAND (CBS) — A vacation photo that shows the California Fish and Game Commission’s president, right after he killed a mountain lion on a hunting trip, continued to fuel a political firestorm in the state capitol Wednesday night.
A San Jose newspaper first published the photograph of Commission president Daniel Richards with a mountain lion that he had just hunted and killed in Idaho.
In the latest twist, 11 Republican state lawmakers, including nine state senators, signed a letter of support for Richards, calling the campaign to force him to resign a witch hunt.
“He didn’t break a California law, he supports the California law, he’s done great work on the commission. Like so many other sportsmen, he’s a true conservationist, you can tell from his background, the groups that he volunteers with and everything else. This is clearly a witch hunt. They don’t want somebody there on the Commission that is using common sense,” said State Senator Bob Dutton (R).
Hunting mountain lions is legal in Idaho, but it was outlawed by California voters in 1990 when they passed Proposition 117.
The Fish and Game Commission is responsible for overseeing and enforcing those regulations.
Critics, who are demanding that Richards resign, charge that for the president of the Commission to hunt and kill mountain lions and send photographs to a hunting magazine, sends the wrong message.
“I appreciate hunting, I really do. I have family members who hunt. But I just don’t think this action will hunt with the voters of California, and I just think it’s inappropriate, and I just felt compelled to say something about it,” said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.
The issue has divided the state legislature along party lines, with many Democrats demanding that Richards resign, while Republicans are saying there is no way he should go.
We went to try to interview Richards at his Upland home, but were unable to do so.
But Richards has released a statement saying there is zero chance that he will resign from his office.