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Phil Matier: Lawmakers Spar Over Fish & Game Commission Chief In Mountain Lion Flap

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Daniel Richards, mountain lion, Fish and Game Commission

California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards poses with a mountain lion he killed during a recent hunting expedition. (Western Outdoor News)

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The California Assembly could vote as early as next week on a resolution to oust the California Fish and Game Commission president photographed with a dead mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho.

Democratic lawmakers have called for Daniel Richards to resign his post after a photo of him smiling as he held the cougar carcass appeared on a blog.

KCBS, CBS 5 and SF Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

A spokesman for Democratic Assemblyman Ben Hueso of San Diego told the Chronicle a resolution to force the Republican commissioner out of office could reach the Assembly floor by Thursday, March 8.

Richards has steadfastly refused to step down, pointing out in a letter to state lawmakers that hunting mountain lions is legal in Idaho. California outlawed mountain lion hunting in 1971, and those calling for Richards’ ouster have argued that as a state official, Richards should have honored the spirit of that ban even while traveling in another state.

Opponents compared his behavior to a narcotics officer smoking pot in a place where marijuana is legal. Richards said his actions are no different than a Californian who gambles in Nevada.

Once the photograph started circulated on the Internet, conservationists began to attack Richards’ record on wildlife protection. Richards, a commercial realtor and developer from Upland in San Bernardino County, said he supports conservation when it is supported by scientific evidence. He was appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Eleven Republican lawmakers have written a letter in support of Richards, who faces calls to resign from 40 Democratic lawmakers and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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