HSUS Hysteria Over Mountain Lion

Feb 23, 2012
Editor's Note: The story below will appear in the March 2 print edition of The Western Outdoor News. Since the story's "gone viral" across the country, we thought you'd like to know the real story of why the Humane Society of the United States is calling for the removal of the President of the California Fish and Game Commission.

HSUS Hysterical Over Legal Hunt by California Fish & Game Commissioner's Hunt

You would have thought someone had trapped, killed and eaten the very last unicorn in the world!

"Oh no, string 'em up!" The hysterical screams from the anti-hunting, animal-rights group Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are squealing all over the place.

This is the photo that has the HSUS calling for the removal of California Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards. Photo courtesy Western Outdoor News.
And why? Because Dan Richards, President of the California Fish and Game Commission, went on a legal hunt and was pleased with the results. "It was the most physically exhausting hunt of my lifetime," Richards said of the mountain lion hunt in Idaho. And that's something, from a long-time hunter.

Richards was licensed, and held a tag for hunting mountain lions in Idaho, something that almost every state in the west allows as part of scientifically managed wildlife management programs to allow all species an equal chance at proliferation. So he was legal in every respect.

Here in California, an uneducated and basically "bought off" voting public--in great part by a huge advertising campaign funded by HSUS--passed Proposition 117, giving "special protection" to mountain lions despite the fact they were, and still are, prolific, common, increasing in numbers and having a huge detrimental impact on other wildlife species, livestock and pets.

If your dog or cat is missing, and you live in a rural area, chances are it was killed and eaten by either a coyote or a mountain lion. And, you, the voting public, are still paying $30 million per year for "mountain lion habitat". That money would do far more good helping our schools, law enforcement, fire protection, or any of a number of far better uses. Mountain lions don't need it!

According to Michael Pottorff, a long-time advocate for hunting and fishing issues in San Diego County, and past San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Commissioner from 1987-2006: "I watched helplessly as our County Animal, the Peninsula bighhorn (desert bighorn) sheep had its numbers sheared from 2000 to 200 without a shot being fired and with 70% of the mortality attributed to a runaway lion population beginning with the anti's successful closure in 1971. "By contrast, there were only three San Diego Sheep mortalities attributed to "suspected" lion kills for the three prior decades," Pottorff said.

So much for the non-management of mountain lions being a "good thing".

The arrogance of Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, and Jennifer Fearing, head of HSUS in California, is astounding: now, not only do they, as spokespersons for HSUS, presume to dictate how big chicken cages should be, and what we should eat, and what "trophy hunting" is and isn't, but they also presume to dictate our values, as sportsmen and women. And, try to sway our appointed and elected political representatives! As a non-profit, that's illegal!

That's how arrogant these two people-and HSUS-have become.

This all comes from two people, and an organization, that has had no physical presence in California whatsoever until the past few years. The HSUS headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and that is, in fact, where the California head of HSUS, Jennifer Fearing, came from just 3 years ago to try and influence California politics. And the crying shame is, they found some success with the gullible, left-leaning California majority.

It seems to me, though, that HSUS has gone way out on a limb with this one, though. Even other animal rights activists disagree with HSUS. In comments to the San Jose Mercury News, Eric Mills, Coordinator for Action for Animals out of Oakland had this to say about Richards: "The anger here is misplaced. Commissioner Dan Richards did nothing illegal. Mountain lion hunting is not against the law in Idaho. Nor was this a 'canned' hunt, as some have claimed. Dan Richards is not the enemy. He's an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, which has been well-known for years. No one has a right to be surprised by this hunt."

Mills even went so far as to say "I've found him to be honest, thoughtful, articulate, fair and outspoken."

According to WON writer Paul Lebowitz, Richards recently voted in favor of listing the yellow-legged frog as a candidate species for threatened/endangered status, because the evidence supported it; he has voted to close down the salmon season and last year's emergency abalone closure. Richards is a vocal opponent of the MLPA, but for rational reasons: fishing regulations are working, overfishing is a thing of the past, and the state has no funds for proper enforcement or the essential base line and monitoring studies. Those concerns were echoed by former commission president Jim Kellogg, according to Lebowitz.

The true extremist position here is coming from HSUS, not Richards. And in fact, this poses a more serious threat than just calling for the removal of one person: What if there actually was action taken based on this hysterical, groundless cry from a fringe, animal-rights, anti-hunting group like HSUS? What if politicians and/or the voting public actually listened to every anti-group that's hanging in the shadows out there?

In this case, most certainly the HSUS rantings should fall on deaf ears, since for the assembly and state senate to recall an appointee over legal activity is an abuse of power. Unfortunately, that's not the case, as Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, said recently he is considering introducing a resolution in the Legislature to remove Richards. Huffman, incidentally, is a former senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"He's thumbing his nose at California law," Huffman said. "He's mocking it. Frankly, I think he should face the music and step down. He's done something that's a disgrace to his position and to responsible hunters in California." That, on its face value, is ridiculous. Since when is following the law a "disgrace"?

What would an animal-rights, anti-hunting group like HSUS want in someone who makes decisions about the management of wildlife and fisheries in California? Well, certainly not someone who has lived their life appreciating and understand the balance of nature and the way of wild things.

I believe I've come with a much more fitting name for the acronym HSUS. How about "Hysterical Society for Uninformed Simpletons"? That's much more fitting. Unfortunately, this state is filled with uninformed simpletons, who have no desire to become informed. And the Humane Society of the United States is trying to take advantage of that. Fortunately, the vast majority of Californians think for themselves, and will put a quick end to this rant.

--Bill Karr

Karr is a Western Outdoor News Staff Writer