The Commissioner Killed a Kitty 022912
Daniel Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, went to Idaho, spent seven grand, and shot a mountain lion, or cougar, or puma, or feline speed freak of the woods, or whatever your term is. President Richards was not breaking any law; what he did was completely legal.
That doesn’t stop California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome or 40 other Democratic state politicos from calling for his resignation. Newsome emitted a quote along the lines of “the people of California have twice voted to protect big kitties” and the members of the F&G Commission need to obey that sentiment even on their own time. Newsome used the outcome of those votes to pronounce for all the people of California that mountain lion hunting is bad. There are two problems with this as I see it. The first is a willingness by our elected leaders to assume that because more than half of us voted for something that we can conclude “the people of California” feel one way about big predators. We’ll notice that in this instance the party affiliation is Democrat (of course) but Republicans are just as happy to claim voter support where none exists. That the majority of Californians have twice voted to prevent mountain lion hunting is evidence of the pernicious and debilitating effect of Walt Disney, who cute-ified the animal kingdom with artful animations and staged and falsified natural history films. The mountain lion is not endangered, according to the DFG (see below) and there is no reason not to hunt them in California, except that it isn’t politically correct. Hence Mr. Newsome feels confident enough in the zeitgeist to misspeak for nearly half of Californians.
There was a nice bounty on mountain lions prior to 1963, and they were considered a game animal until Ronald Reagan, as governor, placed a moratorium on hunting. Still, it was possible to consider the mountain lion a game animal until 1990, when Prop 117 passed. Since then the population of California’s lions have increased to about 5,000 animals in the state. The reduced deer herd has slightly capped lion numbers, but the big cats commonly eat pets and livestock, and occasionally, even a human. A human is killed or injured by a lion in California once a year, on average, and the numbers seem to be increasing as urban areas spread and the lion population grows. Not surprisingly, more lion attacks take place near urban areas than in deeply rural regions in the state; there are more people there, and the lions have become used to the smell of humans and pets and pet food.
Your Fringe Editor had the pleasure of speaking to someone who had witnessed a mountain lion attack. Several people sat around a fire at a country cabin when a mountain lion swiftly walked up, grabbed one of the people by the head and began to drag them off. Companions grabbed cordwood and hit the animal, they yelled and kicked at it but it wasn’t until someone picked up a large knife and laid into the cat that it finally gave off and left. The description was “psycho, like the lion couldn’t see anything but its intended prey.”
“Mountain lions are not threatened nor endangered in California. In fact, the lion population is relatively high in California and their numbers appear to be stable. Mountain lions are legally classified as "specially protected species". This has nothing to do with their relative abundance and does not imply that they are rare.” With the passage of Proposition 117 in 1990, mountain lions became a "specially protected species," making mountain lion hunting illegal in California. This status and other statutes prohibit the Department of Fish and Game from recommending a hunting season for lions, and it is illegal to take, injure, possess, transport, import, or sell any mountain lion or part of a mountain lion. DFG website.
Mountain Lions in California
Even so, as mountain lion muirists would complain, humans still kill far more of the big cats than they kill of us. And why the hell not? The Fish and Game kills about 14 cats a year for hanging out at playgrounds like sexual predators.
Under the DFG’s Public Safety Wildlife Guidelines, an animal is deemed to be a public safety threat if there is “a likelihood of human injury based on the totality of the circumstances.” Factors that are considered include the lion’s behavior and its proximity to schools, playgrounds and other public gathering places. DFG website.
There is really no reason not to kill lions in California, except for the feel-good that people get taking away a right they don’t care about. And, Walt Disney.
Louie, Walt Disney’s mountain lion. Oooooh, why would anyone want to kill Louie?
The second problem is that Richards did not kill a Californian mountain lion, but a lion in Idaho, where the voters are a little more pragmatic. According to Newsome and others, that shouldn’t matter.
But, should it? What if Richards were a member of the California Gambling Control Commission and he went to Reno and dropped seven grand in quarters in the slots. Should he resign? What if he was a member of the Children and Family Commission and he went to Nevada and rented a hooker. Should he resign then?
There is a problem with requiring members of boards and commissions to march lock step with zeitgeist. It isn’t representative of the whole population. Oddly, we don’t require that planning commission members not be developers, or that corporate flunkies shouldn’t sit on governing boards of real estate or insurance. Why should it matter to Gavin Newsome and 40 witless Democrats that a member of the Fish and Game Commission actually likes to hunt? Why should we want the members of such commissions to drink the koolaid instead of adding some perspective to the body? The 5 member commission is already neatly split between “environmentalists” and whatever the opposite of that is, with the fifth member being the tie breaker. If Brown succeeds in replacing Richards with another enviro, the sad story of hunting in California will only get worse.
The president of the Commission and his legally dead Idaho lion.
So far, Richards has refused to step down, and I hope he continues to refuse. He hasn’t broken the law, he’s entitled to hunt out of state, and though I hate signing on with conspiracy theories, I have to say this is just a chance for bug nuts California Democrats to swamp the Fish and Game Commission.
Advice from DFG in dealing California Killer Kitties:
(Above) Helpful hints from DFG. We’d add our own modification: If a mountain lion attacks a person, use your illegally concealed .45 and send it to feline speed freak hell.