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Last Days of the Lion Killer

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Opinion: Last Days of the Lion Killer

Daniel Richards, former president, California Fish and Game Commission, holding a mountain lion he shot during a hunting expedition in Idaho.

There's no photo of the political body of Dan Richards being held aloft by its killer, as if he were, say, a cougar successfully hunted. 

That's because no one took down Richards, who was just deposed as president of the California Fish and Game Commission.

Richards did himself in.

The news reports note that Richards' removal came after he shot a cougar in Idaho, where such hunting is legal.

But that's not exactly right.

Richards' problems stemmed from his reaction to the news.

When the killing, and a photo of him holding up the dead mountain lion, became a controversy, Richards should have been circumspect.

Instead, he fueled the fire, giving interviews in which he unapologetically defended his killing of the mountain lion and called mainstream animal protection groups such as the Humane Society "eco-terrorists."

Richards isn't gone yet. He's no longer Fish and Game president, but his term on the commission runs into early next year.

He's highly unlikely to be reappointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but even that departure probably won't mean the last of Richards.

He's now well-known, and beloved in some circles, and is said to have political ambitions.

His only problem may be his state of residence. If he wants to get elected to office, he may have to leave California.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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