Dan Richards, the chairman of the state Fish and Game commission, created an uproar with his photos from a mountain lion hunt in Idaho. State legislators are calling for his ouster, and Richards says he’s not going anywhere.
I have no problem with hunting. I’d rather eat pheasant than chicken, antelope than beef. And tempests like this one make for red meat politics. I’ve got no problem with that, either. But there is one reason that Richards ought to go. Hunting ought to be consistent with conservation and species protection – and, no, I’m not going to argue that he needs to abide by California protections for mountain lions when he’s in Idaho, which has no such law. (Besides, have we heard any legislators calling for the resignations of their colleagues who were arrested, arrested mind you, for shoplifting or trying to carry loaded firearms onto airplanes?) But as a commissioner, Richards has opposed efforts to outlaw lead ammunition, which is undermining efforts to save the California condor. The condor is a carrion eater, and dozens of them have died after ingesting lead ammunition.
To protect waterfowl from lead poisoning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prohibited hunters from using lead shot since 1991. In California, state law prohibits the use of lead shot in 15 counties identified as condor habitat, but that hasn’t stopped the incidents of lead poisoning. The state ban on lead ammunition ought to be extended to all 58 counties.
– Jim Sweeney