Lawmakers want to make state data on wild game immune to FOIA

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The State House of Representatives approved a bill on Tuesday that would make state data about the location of wild game animals immune to the Freedom of Information Act.

The bill was sent to the State Senate, and on Thursday it was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

The idea for this bill stems from a survey of wild grouse in Michigan back in 2010. According to testimony during committee hearings for the bill, a hunter used FOIA to get details about the survey and used it to find and hunt the grouse that were being studied. This disrupted the survey so much that it had to be canceled in 2015.

State wildlife officials argue that making this kind of data available would threaten future wildlife studies and protection efforts. Representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs testified in support of the bill.

No arguments against the bill were submitted during State House committee hearings, but in the past, opponents to similar exemptions have argued that DNR surveys are public information funded with tax dollars, and should be available for anyone to use as they see fit.

The bill would not apply to game animals that are kept domestically, like deer raised on a farm as livestock.

Click here to read House Bill 4050 for yourself. The proposed changes are on pages 8 and 9.

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