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Animal Rights Group Backs Down from Seeking Hunters’ Personal Information

Recently, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) submitted a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information related to the import and export of wildlife into and out of the United States.  The information is contained in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS) database. Included in LEMIS is information about trade in hunting trophies (and other types of wildlife), including personal information of anyone who imports or exports a hunting trophy. 

This is just one of many attempts by animal rights groups to obtain information on hunters. Making personal identifying information public poses a threat to law-abiding international hunters, who often face severe backlash and threats in the media and elsewhere. Partly for this reason, the FWS has recently withheld personal identifying information of individual hunters in response to FOIA requests. Of course, the FWS must safeguard the privacy rights of American citizens when they collect information on wildlife imports. 

CBD’s lawsuit challenges the FWS’ failure to timely respond to a series of FOIA requests for LEMIS information. SCI sought to intervene in the case to protect the personal information of SCI members and other individual hunters from disclosure to CBD. 

After SCI’s attorneys notified CBD and the federal government of our intent to intervene, CBD agreed to not seek disclosure of personally identifying information of individual hunters. That agreement follows SCI’s success in obtaining a ruling from another federal court, holding that the FWS can withhold personal identifying pursuant to an exemption to the FOIA. 

CBD and the federal government’s stipulation was recently filed, and limits the information that the FWS will provide to CBD in response to its FOIA requests. Since the case now poses little threat to individual hunters, SCI will not move to intervene.  However, companies engaged in commercial import (such as taxidermists and cargo agents) should take note—the FWS may produce the names of commercial importers and exporters.

This is just one of many examples of SCI leading the fight against all efforts by anti-hunting groups. We will continue to stand First for Hunters, both from the front and behind the scenes.  

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