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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Information Games: How Many Animals Killed?

Jeff Barnard, who covers environmental issues for the Associated Press, weighs in with this fascinating tale of information control...shall we say selective presentation? Perhaps the national picture is less flattering than your individual state...do you want to go back and request the national tabular data?

Until now, anyone who wanted to know how many wolves, skunks or even robins that hunters for the U.S. Department of Agriculture shot, poisoned or snared across the nation could look it up on an agency Web site.

The department's Wildlife Services agency, whose job is "creating a balance that allows people and wildlife to coexist peacefully," spent $117 million in fiscal year 2007 to kill 2.4 million wild animals representing 319 species, up significantly from the year before.

But the latest report obscured the nationwide numbers.

The report on fiscal year 2007 posted on the agency's Web site last week requires anyone interested in nationwide totals to call up individual reports from each of the 50 states and then do the math.

The new color pie charts and drop-down menus of state-by-state listings came on the heels of the agency's refusal even to post the information for fiscal 2005 and 2006 until after conservation groups sent a formal demand letter reminding Deputy Director William Clay of a 2000 federal court ruling requiring the agency to do so under the Freedom of Information Act, said Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians. The group does an annual analysis of the numbers as part of a campaign to cut federal funding for killing predators.

More here.

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