If you imported or exported a hunting trophy into the U.S. in 2013 and 2014, and possibly earlier, you will soon be given an opportunity to tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service whether you want the FWS to disclose your identity to an international anti-hunting organization.
On August 19, 2016, a D.C. federal court granted SCI the right to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Humane Society International. HSI filed suit against the FWS to challenge the FWS’s decision to withhold information about the identities of individuals who imported and exported animals into and from the U.S. in 2013 and 2014 and possibly earlier. Some of those individuals are SCI members and other international hunters who imported or exported legally hunted animals into or from the U.S. SCI has joined the lawsuit to defend the FWS’s decision not to provide that and other information in response to Freedom of Information Act Requests submitted by HSI to the FWS. SCI is very concerned that HSI wants to use the information once again to attack hunters, hunting, and SCI.
HSI’s requests for the information and its decision to file a lawsuit mean that the FWS now has an obligation to notify all individuals who imported or exported animals into or from the U.S. The notice will inform importers and exporters that they should contact the FWS to state whether or not they want their identities disclosed to HSI. Instead of sending an individual letter to each of the thousands of individuals involved, the FWS has decided to publish the required notice in the Federal Register and on the FWS’s website. Once the notice appears in the Federal Register and on the FWS’s website, importers and exporters will have 20 days to respond to the notice. Unfortunately, it appears that the FWS has decided that if a person does not respond, the FWS will assume that person does not object to disclosure. In other words, it may be that if you do not expressly inform the FWS not to disclose your identity, the FWS will take your silence as an authorization to give out your name.
SCI is fully aware that the majority of SCI members (and others in the international hunting community) do not read the Federal Register or regularly visit the FWS’s website. However, SCI’s Litigation Department will be checking both sources daily. As soon as we see the FWS’s notice, we will send out an alert to all SCI members through our electronic publications. Our alert will explain how to inform the FWS whether you want your identity as a hunter/importer/exporter disclosed to HSI.
Please spread the word. If you know others who imported or exported legally hunted animals into or from the U.S., let them know that they too will have a limited opportunity to let the FWS know whether they want their identities disclosed to HSI. Encourage them to consult SCI’s publications and website for further information.
EDITORS NOTE: Please pay attention to the SCI Website if you are member and if you are not a member…JOIN ASAP