Friday, March 29, 2013

The law and hunting, never shall the two meet

So a little while ago one of the directors of California's Fish and Game Department went up to Idaho for a hunting trip. He paid for all of his tags and licenses. He followed the rules and hunted in season. And he got fired for it. Why did he get fired for hunting by the rules?

He killed a mountain lion.

Commissioner Richards was fired because he hunted where he was allowed to hunt and kill an animal he was allowed to kill.

Now mountain lions, or cougars, are not endangered. They are doing rather well in fact. But for a period of time in California, their numbers did dip a bit. So California banned the hunting of mountain lions, except for those that have become a risk to people and domesticated animals.

Now a Fish and Game director has to be a bit of a scientist, a bit of a legal stickler, and a bit of a backwoods kinda guy or gal. You want a commissioner that is a concerned outdoors person, who understands game management and wants to keep populations healthy. These kinds of people tend to be hunters themselves.

Hunters want one of their own to manage game populations because true hunters tend to want healthy game populations to hunt for perpetuity.

So when the hunter in Commissioner Roberts wanted to go after a mountain lion, he went and applied for a tag in Idaho and was selected to hunt there. All by the book. He had a successful hunt and killed a lion.

His down fall was the picture he took of his kill went public. The anti-hunting community went wild. Richards avoid fines that some tried to levy at him, but he was pushed out of his position as President of the Fish and Game Commission.

Why was a person nearly fined by California for a non-illegal action carried out in another state? Why did a person lose his job because he did a perfectly legal activity? Because of emotion. I have to admit that I'm writing this blog post with a bit of emotion too, but it seems crazy that a person loses their job and faces sanctions for something that is not wrong in the eyes of the law.

Some states have seen the writing on the wall and passed amendments to their constitutions to protect hunting and fishing. I don't think California could ever garner enough votes for that. Public officials in California that hunt may wish we could.

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