If you have imported or exported a hunting trophy since January 1, 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) could soon release information about you and your trophy to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to FWS for that data. The FWS obtained the information from import/export declaration forms (Form 3-177) routinely filled out by all importers and exporters.
In response to CBD’s request, the FWS released some but not all the information that CBD asked for. The FWS refused to disclose customs document numbers, names of carrier, air waybill or bill of lading numbers, foreign CITES permit and U.S. permit numbers, quantity and declared value of wildlife, and foreign importer/exporter. After CBD sued the FWS in federal court in Arizona to obtain the withheld information, the FWS formally notified all submitters of information that they have an opportunity to object to the disclosure. The FWS has also informed the public that it will presume that all those who do not send in a written objection are consenting to the disclosure. The FWS posted the notice to all submitters of information in the Federal Register on Friday, November 25, 2016, here, and on its website, here. Anyone who wishes to object to the release of his or her information must do so on or before December 16, 2016. Objections may be sent in one of the following ways:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fax: (703) 358–2271.
- U.S. mail or hand-delivery: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (FOIA), 5275 Leesburg Pike (MS: OLE), Falls Church, VA 22041.
If this all sounds a bit familiar, it should. SCI just recently notified its members and the general hunting community of a similar FOIA request and lawsuit filed by Humane Society International (HSI). We provided detailed guidance to our members about information to include in their objections to the release of information to HSI, as well as sample language to include in objection letters. Now that CBD has made its own request, we are again providing our members with notice of the objection opportunity and information to assist our members and others in responding.
Guidance and sample language to respond to the FWS’s alert about CBD’s FOIA request can be found here.
Note: If you sent an objection to the FWS regarding HSI’s FOIA request and lawsuit, that will not serve as an objection to CBD’s FOIA request and lawsuit. You MUST do so again. Also, you cannot object to CBD’s FOIA request and lawsuit by sending the exact same letter you previously used to respond. You must send a new or modified letter, with new identifying information. Please read the FWS’s Federal Register notice and our Guidance to determine what must be included.
The anti-hunting groups are working hard to force the FWS to release information about you, your business and your trophy importation/exportation activities. Do not make it easy for them to get access to your information. Put up a defense and tell the FWS you do not want your information released!