Wolf data exempt under FOIA, says court

Gray wolf (Canis lupus).
Image via Wikipedia

Environmental groups are not entitled to specific locations of where wolves have killed cattle, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the specific data sought by the organizations is exempt from disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The judge said that means the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has the information, can keep it secret.

Thursday’s ruling met with disappointment from members of the groups. They said the data is needed to provide crucial information they believe ultimately would help preserve Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

The wolf was reintroduced to eastern Arizona and western New Mexico in 1998. But efforts to preserve it in the wilderness often have run headlong into the concerns of ranchers when the animals prey on their cattle. What happens, according to Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, is that wolves which are linked to cattle deaths are relocated — or shot. He said the last census at the beginning of this year found only 42 animals in the wild, a 19 percent decline from the prior year.


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