Date of this Version
In November 1997 and in April 1999, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents containing the locations and personal identifying information regarding the use of the livestock protection collar (LPC) in the United States were submitted by the Animal Protection Institute (API) to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Responses were provided for each of the requests but cooperators’ personal identifying information, such as their names and addresses, was excluded. On August 31, 1999, API filed suit in the United States District Court in the District of Columbia alleging that APHIS had violated FOIA by withholding personal identifying information. In the lawsuit, API sought data identifying participants in the LPC program. After learning that APHIS was negotiating a settlement with API that would include release of the personal information, the American Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau, and a number of unnamed individuals filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas seeking to block the release of this information by APHIS. This lawsuit has since become known as the John Doe case. In January 2000, plaintiffs added to their lawsuit a request to block the Agency from releasing the data contained in APHIS’ Wildlife Services (WS) Management Information System (MIS) database, which contains information of all WS specialists’ activities and the identities of cooperators and patrons, to Forest Guardians in response to their FOIA request to APHIS. On February 9, 2000, a modified preliminary injunction was issued by the District Court in Texas preventing APHIS from releasing cooperators’ personal identifying information to API, Forest Guardians, or anyone else while the lawsuit was ongoing.