The Bay Area News Group reports about 60 people spoke in support of cougar-hunting commission president Dan Richards during the meeting's two-and-a-half hour public comment period in Riverside yesterday. Here's one typical comment from someone who said he was a member of several hunting groups:
We are appalled that this action against the president is being taken. I personally in the last two weeks have contacted every assemblyman and senator within the state of California. Unfortunately the Lt. Governor for some reason has not returned my call in the last two weeks.
We are firmly in support of you Dan; we appreciate what you've done. This is the 25th year of organized sheep hunting in the state of California, something we're very proud of, and we wouldn't have been able to do it without the fine folks at the commission and at the Dept. of Fish and Game. Thank you for what you do, and please stand against this.
Richards has come under attack from animal advocates, Democratic state legislators and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for killing a mountain lion at an Idaho ranch then posting online a photo showing him holding up the dead beast. Hunting cougars is illegal in California but not in Idaho.
Initially 40 state legislators signed a letter calling for Richards' removal. Lawmakers can do that with a simple majority in both the Assembly and Senate, though that effort seems to be petering out. From the Bay Area News Group:
"Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said last week that though Richards acted like a "jackass," he didn't want to let the issue distract lawmakers from the budget and other priorities and had no plans to take up a vote on Richards."
(Update 2:40 p.m.) Jerry Brown weighs in:
On Fish&Game prez's cougar hunt in Idaho | MT @jerrybrownsays: I don't think this is an issue that merits deep gubernatorial scrutiny.
— John Myers (@johnmyers) March 8, 2012
Richards, for his part, has been unapologetic, sending a sarcastic letter to Assemblymember Ben Hueso, who spearheaded the effort in the legislature to have him removed.
"Do you really think a California Commissioner is actually obligated to follow California laws across these United States? Really?" Richards wrote.
Whether he is removed or not, Richards' term is up on Jan. 15, 2013.
The parade of speakers in support of Richards starts around 16:00 of the video. A handful of Richards critics also speak.