Thursday, March 01, 2012

Firing the right guy for the wrong reason

California's Fish and Game Commission Chair Dan Richards should quit or be fired, but it's just a shame that if he goes it's for the wrong reason.  The guy has ignored his responsibility for environmental protection and fought the establishment of marine reserves, which is what he should be fired for.  He also hunted a mountain lion in Idaho, where it's legal, although it's illegal in California based on a voter initiative.

I'm the former chair of the Santa Clara County Fish and Game Commission, where we worked hard and mostly successfully to bring environmentalists and hunters together.  It's a shame that doesn't happen on a state level.  I'm not a hunter and I don't see an ecological need to hunt apex predators, but I don't seen an ecological problem with it either if managed properly.  If it were up to me, lion hunting would be legal here in California.

via wiki, click photo for source

Hunters like Richards who don't care about the environment are a big problem.  Environmentalists tried to get the burrowing owl, pictured above, listed as endangered under California law several years ago and were denied, and they've been on a severe decline in our area ever since.  I'd give even odds they'll be gone in 10 years in the Bay Area, although they're doing okay elsewhere.

Richards and other roadblocks should be fired, but they should be replaced by hunters who care about the environment, not just trophy maximization.

FWIW, I'll give an example of where cooperation broke down on our local level.  Our county is considering a Habitat Conservation Plan for protecting endangered species.  I tried to unite our county F&G Commission behind a letter calling on the use of hunting as a management tool for controlling non-native species, particularly pigs and turkeys, that harm habitats.  I was blocked by a right winger who's no hunter now, but just hated governmental protection of endangered species so much that he wanted nothing to do with it.  That's the type of thing we need to overcome.

UPDATE:  based on this report, I'd disagree with the assertion made at my first link that it was a canned hunt.  There may have been a canned hunt of pheasants, but the lion was wild and presumably free to go anywhere he wanted..