The Center for Biological Diversity’s suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking documents under the Freedom of Information Act about wildlife being imported into the United States was ruled on last Friday, March 30, 2018.
U.S. Magistrate Judge, Bruce G. Macdonald for the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, ordered the agency to release more public records about the wildlife being imported into the United States and directed USFWS to turn over the additional data within 14 days.
“The public has every right to know what wildlife is coming across our borders,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center’s international program. “Given the enormous threats from wildlife trafficking, we’re glad to know these records will see the light of day.”
In addition, the ruling directs USFWS to release records contained in the Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS). LEMIS includes forms filed by applicants for the importation or exportation of fish and wildlife.
According to the Center’s compliant, “These imports include everything from python-skin boots, to parrots and turtles destined for the pet trade—to lions killed as hunting trophies, as well as zoo and scientific specimens.”
From 2001 until about mid-2014 or 2015, USFWS released LEMIS data “without exemption,” Macdonald stated.
However, between 2014 and 2015, USFWS officials began withholding some information and in 2016, withheld information such as: quantity, declared value, foreign importer/exporter, bill of lading numbers, customs document numbers, and permit numbers.
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Worldwide Primates Inc. and Safari Specialist a taxidermy firm argued that release of the additional details about their imports could cause competitive harm. The judge disagreed.
“Based on the circumstances of this case, the corporate speculations are insufficient to support exemption,” Macdonald wrote.
See U.S. Magistrate Judge, Bruce G. Macdonald ruling: Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service
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