CA News – Dan Richards Out As CA Fish and Game Commission President

August 8, 2012

Well, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone with a lick of imagination, but Dan Richards has apparently been voted out of the office of President of the CA Fish and Game Commission.   I don’t have all the details, but apparently some of the other four board members were able to manipulate the Commission rules to hold a vote and replace Richards with commissioner Jim Kellogg.  The position of President was initially based on seniority, but in a vote in May, the Commission changed the bylaws so that the Presidency would be decided by simple majority.

For those with short memories, Richards was at the center of a crapstorm earlier this year for participating in a mountain lion hunt over in Idaho.  After photos of his success were circulated on the Internet, calls came swiftly from anti-hunting organizations for him to step down from the Commission.  Richards’s reactions to the criticism were, to say the least, not very diplomatic. Whatever support he may have had in Sacramento is certain to have backed off a step or two during the flameout, and odds are very good that when his term expires in six months, Governor Brown will not reappoint him to the Commission. 

The bright side is that, until then, Richards is still a voting member of the Commission.  He and Jim Kellogg are the only voices in the group of five commissioners who have demonstrated any appreciable consideration for the concerns of California’s hunting and fishing community.   His loss may well be the killing blow to any semblance of common sense in hunting and fishing regulation in CA unless the state’s sportsmen get active and lobby the Governor to either reappoint Richards, or find another pro-hunting Commissioner.  Two other commissioners, Richard Rogers and Mike Sutton have demonstrated minimal support for hunters or fishermen on key regulatory issues, including the lead ammo ban (Sutton is the executive director of Audubon California, a strong proponent of the lead ammo ban) and the closures of fishing areas along the coast.  

The newest commissioner, Jack Bayliss, has so far not shown his colors… at least to my knowledge.  But then, I haven’t paid quite as close attention to the FGC since moving to Texas, and haven’t actually followed the meetings (they post the meeting agenda, discussion topics, and videos on the FGC website).   Nevertheless, I don’t think I’m reaching when I suggest that the loss of Richards, without an equally outspoken proponent of common sense, hunting and fishing regulations, will give the environmental and anti-hunting organizations a dangerous level of power in the Commission.  The HSUS has already demonstrated their ability to manipulate the regulatory process and drive their agenda on the backs of CA politicians and lawmakers.

Eternal vigilance, folks.  California hunters, you aren’t going to be able to sit back and expect Sacramento to carry your best interests, and you’re not going to be able to rest on your laurels when you think you’ve defeated the anti-hunting agenda.  As you saw, the hound hunting legislation went right by you while you were celebrating your “victory” only a few days earlier.  The huge outpouring of support for Dan Richards was nowhere to be found at the subsequent FGC meetings, and this ouster came with only one individual on hand to speak in favor of keeping Richards in place.  The agenda of organizations like HSUS will continue to advance if hunters are not providing constant, and vocal, opposition.



8 Responses to “CA News – Dan Richards Out As CA Fish and Game Commission President”

  1. JAC on August 8th, 2012 18:46

    It took so long to vote him off, I’d begun to question my political chops. I know you supported him, Phillip, but with friends like him, who needs Nuge?

    I see a bright future ahead in CA. People need to stay vocal and stay reasonable and all will be well.

  2. Phillip on August 8th, 2012 19:31

    I dunno, John. I supported him because he presented one of the few voices of reason in discussions about hunting issues, including the lead ban. Politically, yeah, he was way out of his element and he demonstrated that thoroughly this spring.

    If his voice is removed from the Commission, I do not share your vision of a bright future in CA… at least not for hunters. I know that’s sort of narrow-sighted, but it’s something that’s important to me. Then again, it’s also one of the reasons I left CA. I think California hunters are in for an unprecedented assault on the privileges they’ve taken for granted for so long, and I don’t believe they’re ready for the kind of protracted political effort (including necessary compromise) it’s going to take to prevail. With Jennifer Fearing and her crowd gaining more and more political clout in Sacramento (amongst folks like Gavin Newsome and Kamala Harris), CA hunters can expect to see more attacks on everything from dove hunting to bears, and potential loss of public access to certain areas as well. No, it’s not bright at all.

  3. JAC on August 29th, 2012 14:09

    Hiya Phillip: Prognosticating is sticky business. *See eg.* Every single pundit on every cable channel – it turns out everyone can be wrong – all the time.

    If lead ammo is the hill you’re willing to die on, yeah, things might look dim. I expect a world of innovation from ammunition manufacturers once CA takes that step though, so you might not find it so bad. If you fear diminution of hunting privileges, then I don’t think you should discount the political chops of the new young hunters. And don’t underestimate their vigor. Remember, at Native Hunt, we were all a bunch of big city liberals and for years, I’ve tried to bring you a whole party of screaming libs. I’m not saying you should be sanguine, only that you have allies you’ve not yet counted.

  4. Phillip on August 29th, 2012 16:35

    Glad to have any allies, any time, John! Outside of specific issues, I’m pretty politically agnostic… actually, I’d anti-political if that were possible for a person with the slightest modicum of intellect. But one has to play the game on some level just to get by in society (polite or otherwise). 😉

    Anyway, you may be right on all counts. I don’t know.

    I said I am a pessimist, but not to the point of nihilism. I think the hunters in CA can keep their heads above water as long as they bother to keep swimming. So far, besides a couple of sprints, I haven’t seen the kind of activism that gives me much hope for their stamina. The anti-hound bill is a pretty good example of that. They made a great show and delayed the passage, but they weren’t even looking when it came back up and passed. It looks like nothing short of a veto from the Governor is going to save that… not too likely… and good riddance some may say. I disagree, but that’s my opinion. I’m a little surprised hound hunting for hogs hasn’t come under direct assault yet, but maybe they just don’t have enough of the damning footage.

    Point is, CA hunters are on an uphill climb and will be for some time. I still firmly believe that it’s going to take everything those “new young hunters” have to keep things on the positive.

    Long run, sure, the basics will probably be safe for a long time. The deer hunters will be able to take to the field every year (although scientific management through either-sex harvest is off the table for most areas). Waterfowl hunters will continue to hold their own, as will most upland bird hunters. Pigs have been so thoroughly demonized by popular media (a mixed blessing) that I doubt anyone is going to try too hard to impinge on that. The attacks, though, are on the fringes… and they always start with the things that even some of your “bunch of big city liberals” don’t necessarily support like the hound hunting issue. They count on the, “well it doesn’t affect me” contingent. And that’s a pretty large group anywhere… but especially in CA.

    As far as the lead ban, I’m actually fairly confident that we won’t see a significant expansion of that for a couple of years at least. I could be wrong, again, but I think the more extreme side of that discussion has put a little too much distance between themselves and the actual condor proponents in CA. I think their fight in Arizona has shown them that the allies they thought they could count on aren’t willing to play along with the deception game (Check this out, if you haven’t seen it.)

    Ahh… I’m getting tired, and really just throwing stuff out there anyway. This would be a much more stimulating conversation over a bottle of scotch on the front porch.

  5. JAC on August 31st, 2012 15:23

    No wonder the Ivy League recruited you. The universe of outdoor writers writing about the continuum of pessimism to nihilism – one.

  6. Phillip on August 31st, 2012 17:38

    That’s funny. Yeah, those northeastern schools don’t know what they missed. I can only imagine the outcome had I gone that route.

  7. Norm Green on August 31st, 2012 18:50

    We have been on the front lines, many of us and groups, anytime you want to be filled in on sb1221, come look us up on facebook. The Alliance of dog men, all groups we can and people, we try to link together. We have one common fight. All updates and info too, we could use all the help we can get. We need all the calls to J-brown asking for a veto. Thanks Norm Green

  8. Phillip on August 31st, 2012 19:44

    Hiya, Norm.

    I believe Michael Riddle mentioned you a while back. You guys are having a hell of a fight with that SB1221, and it’s not looking good from where I sit. I’m not in CA anymore (couldn’t take the city life), but still follow issues pretty closely. Please feel free to send updates… or you can post them here. I don’t want to turn the site into a CA activism site, but these things do affect every hunter and we do need to pay attention. I think that’s what some people don’t get. It really is a death by 1000 cuts. That’s not paranoia. Pacelle and others have said as much in plain language.