In late August, Conservation Force filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington, DC to compel the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) to produce the administrative record of the markhor downlisting petition filed by the Torghar Project in Pakistan in 1999. In the Markhor I suit to compel the processing, the USF&WS never produced the administrative record. Instead, it filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that more than six years had passed; therefore the time limit had passed. The District Court granted the government’s motion, so we filed a second petition to downlist, which is progressing after filing markhor suits II and III. We also appealed the District Court dismissal, which appeal has been fully briefed and will be orally argued this fall. The Freedom of Information Act request was to obtain the administrative record for the first petition to downlist to see what really happened when all the promises were being made for nearly a decade. USF&WS did not respond to the FOIA request and did not respond to a second warning letter that suit would be filed.
Another suit is being drafted to compel the production of the minutes of meetings within the USF&WS with high-level Department of Interior leadership where the staff biologists were persuaded to reverse their positive enhancement findings and deny the wood bison and markhor import permit approvals. In the wood bison suit the communication was claimed to be privileged and in Markhor II, it was not included because it was said not to have been considered in the decision-making process. We are going after the information in a FOIA request. Our job is not done until the decision-making is transparent, scientifically-based and truthful. When we began the “enhancement” suits, we never imagined that some would falsify the scientific findings to avoid positive findings that might be controversial to protectionists or themselves.