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Feds Refuse to Share Information to Protect Rare Wildlife

October 31, 2014
Drew Kerr (312) 375-6104
In This Release

Friday, October 31, 2014
Feds Refuse to Share Information to Protect Rare Wildlife

Conservationists File Lawsuit to Force Agency Transparency
Contact: Drew Kerr (312) 375-6104

Additional contact:

John Mellgren, Western Environmental Law Center,541-525-5087

Washington, D.C. – Today, Western Law Environmental Center andWildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuitin Washington, D.C’s federal district court after the U.S. Fish and WildlifeService failed to respond to two different Freedom of Information Act requests inviolation of federal law.

The nonprofit conservation organizations are seekinginformation to help safeguard two imperiled wildlife species: the wolverine,which was recently denied protection under the federal Endangered Species Act,and the Canada lynx, which is listed as a threatened species under the ESA.

“USFWS is repeatedly obstructing our access to publicinformation calling into question President Obama’s commitment to transparencyin government,” said John Mellgren, WELC attorney, who filed today’slawsuit. “The agency forced us to file this lawsuit by failing to respondto our FOIA requests.”

On August 13, 2014, the groups submitted a FOIA requestseeking certain documents related to USFWS’s decision reversing its proposal tolist the wolverine as a threatened species under the federal ESA. USFWS failedto respond to the wolverine FOIA request, except to acknowledge receipt, by thelegally mandated date.

A month later, on September 12, 2014, the groups submitted aFOIA request seeking certain documents related to the agency’s decision to revisehabitat protections for the threatened Canada lynx. USFWS did not comply withthis request either.

In both situations, the groups reached out to the agency toresolve these violations of federal law and avoid a lawsuit. However, theagency did not reply.

FOIA, designed to create transparency and accountability ingovernment, provides a mechanism for citizens to request information fromfederal agencies and receive a timely reply. The sought after information inboth FOIA requests is time-sensitive and pertains to the groups’ efforts toprotect and restore two rare wildlife species, the wolverine and the Canadalynx. Thus, the groups had no choice but to file a lawsuit to force the agencyto comply with federal law and share information.

Other Contact
John Mellgren, Western Environmental Law Center, 541-525-5087
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