Monday, December 06, 2010

Court: Wolf data exempt from disclosure

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. Eva Sargent, director of southwest programs for the Defenders of Wildlife, said the data sought would help her organization work with ranchers to prevent "depredation" of cattle by wolves. For example, she said ranchers can put extra cowboys into the field. "Wolves are generally discouraged by humans' presence," Sargent said. She said cattle can be moved away or electric fencing can be installed. And Sargent said there even is a way to have alarms go off when a wolf with a radio tracking collar approaches the fence to scare the animal off. Matt Kenna, the attorney who represented the environmental groups, said there are other uses for the information. He pointed out that most of the losses to ranchers occurs on leased public lands and not on private property. "When the renewals came up, or even before then, we could provide public comment on them," Kenna said. He said that could include requiring ranchers to modify their operations to reduce wolf attacks -- or even proposing that certain lands be off limits to cattle grazing...more

So who are you going to believe? Sargent, who just wants to "help" ranchers shoo the wolves away, or Kenna, who wants to amend or eliminate your grazing permit?

I'm going with Kenna, and I'll bet Martin Heinrich is too.

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