New Obama Orders on Transparency, FOIA Requests

This should make it easier to get wolf and other wildlife information-

One of the major problems that has emerged in recent years is simply getting information from the federal government which should be by law, freely available. The Bushies made it so the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) was becoming almost useless, and agencies like USFWS and Wildlife Services could withhold anything that made them “uncomfortable.” Lately, that seemed to be just about everything.

As a result, you had to put 2 and 2 together to get real news (or likely) news. For example, yesterday I did a story on the “quick kill” of wolves that Idaho was planning as soon as delisting took place. For several months, conservation groups had expected that this was likely immediately on delisting. However, Montana or Idaho or the federal agencies would hardly tell you this.

As a result, for the story I had to begin with the Idaho Cattle Association meeting held in Sun Valley just after the election and the resolutions they passed. They passed a resolution asking the wolf packs that were “problems” be taken out during the winter even though there were no “depredations” currently (or ever) from those packs. I had to watch what Wildlife Services did, what was being said about wolves in the state legislature where conservation folks attend committee meetings, and watch from stray comments in email or stories on-line to figure out that a quick kill was on its way.

In the near future, a more direct route to stories is likely.

Here the good news story from the Washington Post.

New Obama Orders on Transparency, FOIA Requests
. The Federal Eye. “Keeping Tabs on the Government” by Ed O’Keefe. Washington Post.





  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    Don’t forget about House Joint Resolution 5

    Don’t forget the fact that there are no requirements to maintain a clean cattle or sheep operation. There have been times where I have been out and found dead sheep, from unknown causes, that hadn’t been foraged upon, but left for wolves to eat. I’ve seen dead cattle floating in the Salmon River. I’ve heard about incidents where ranchers leave carcasses laying about with little attempt at keeping them away from wolves. All of these things contribute to conditioning wolves to eating livestock which usually isn’t their first choice of prey.

    Don’t forget about the plan put forth the day after IDFG assumed management over wolves to kill 80% of the wolves in the Lolo Region based on flimsy science. The 10j rule was modified shortly after that so that there was no need to scientifically justify it because everyone knew it couldn’t be done.

    Don’t forget that IDFG has stopped translating any information other than the numbers. No context is given for anything anymore and they withhold information that has been requested even though no one asks for information identifying private individuals.

    I don’t think it is speculation anymore to see that Wildlife Services wants to kill wolves when they recommend in their annual reports that entire wolf packs be killed because they killed 3 measly sheep that were placed right on top of their rendezvous spot causing the problem in the first place.

    One can only wonder what is being planned if the opportunity arises. It is pretty obvious that IDFG and Wildlife Services want to cap the wolves at 2005 levels and that would be no more than 500 wolves.

    If the delisting rule were to be published the IDFG and Wildlife Services know, because this delisting plan will not stand up in court, that they would not get another chance to proceed with a bunch of killing. All of the pieces are in place and the WS resolution with vague definitions about what “chronic” is, and the silence of IDFG about wolves, seems to be the most damning evidence.

    These agencies are accountable to the public and the IDFG in particular is required to manage ALL wildlife under the public trust not just the one’s that they can sell a tag for.

    IDFG has gotten off on the wrong track under the Kempthorne and Otter administrations. They don’t stand up for anything anymore because they have become a subsidiary of the livestock and agriculture industries. This does not bode well for salmon, wolves, pygmy rabbits, sage grouse, bighorn sheep, and many other wildlife species. I’m glad I don’t work for them anymore. They have failed the test.

    Wildlife Services, well……………… duh!

  2. kt Avatar

    Well, this isn’t really about FOIA transparency, but it is about transparency in consumption. And the University of Idaho students doing something good! They have developed a labeling system to show how much water and energy consumption is associated with clothing. Now how to get it put into practice – the figures are pretty mind-boggling.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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