WASHINGTON (CN) — The Humane Society sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for information on the amount and value of imported ivory, furs, and wildlife trophies.
Humane Society International sued the Fish and Wildlife and the Department of the Interior on Monday in a Freedom of Information Act complaint.
“Our planet is on the brink of a sixth mass extinction, with wildlife populations suffering catastrophic declines because of human actions, including unsustainable international trade in animals and their parts,” the federal complaint states.
“The United States is one of the largest consumers of wildlife products, in part due to American trophy hunters who travel the globe to kill exotic species and legally import their heads and hides for personal fancy. To evaluate the conservation and animal welfare impacts of the wildlife trade for trophy hunting and other purposes, issues which are of significant interest to the public, it is imperative that basic data pertaining to such transactions is transparent.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a database of imported and exported wildlife specimens, including ivory, fur, and taxidermied specimens.
Until 2014, Fish and Wildlife would release the identity of importers and exporters of animals and animal parts, and the value of these items, in response to FOIA requests, the Humane Society says.
But in the past two years, the agency has said that certain data categories are exempt from disclosure.
The Humane Society calls that arbitrary and capricious, and wants to see the records.
The data “provide key information that quantifies the role the United States plays in the trade in wild animal products. For example, HSI [Human Society International] uses LEMIS [Law Enforcement Management Information System] data to identify the most common species and countries targeted for trophy hunting, to determine the value of ivory products being imported into the United States during a certain time period, and to determine the United States’ role in the international trade of pangolin scales. This information is used to advocate for listing species under the ESA [Endangered Species Act] or CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] as well as to inform the public,” the complaint states.
The Humane Society is represented by house counsel Laura Friend and Anna Frostic.
Fish and Wildlife Service chief of public affairs Gavin Shire said the agency does not comment on active litigation.
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