MDIFW Violates Maine’s Freedom of Access Law

1 M.R.S.A. § 408 is Maine’s Freedom of Access law.  It gives every person, “…the right to inspect and copy any public record…within a reasonable period of time after making a request to inspect or copy the public record.” 1 M.R.S.A. § 409(1) states in part, “If any body or agency or official who has custody or control of any public record refuses permission to inspect…a public record, this denial must be made…in writing, stating the reason for the denial, within 5 working days of the request for inspection by any person.  Any person aggrieved by denial may appeal, within 5 working days of the receipt of the written notice of denial, to any Superior Court within the State.”

In March 2011, MWC received an email from an outdoor columnist which stated in part, “IFW trapped and radio-collared a female wolf near Mt. Katahdin several years ago.  When they released her they followed her for a week and stopped the monitoring when she crossed the Canadian border in Vermont.”  This was the first that MWC had heard of this animal, and while we do not know the veracity of this report, on March 13, 2011 we sent a letter to MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock asking to see any information related to this animal.  We received no reply, so on April 27, 2011, we sent another request, this time via certified mail.

While we don’t know if, in fact, a female wolf was captured and radio-collared by MDIFW, if the report proves true, it would be additional evidence of the return of wolves to the northeast U.S.  Regardless of the accuracy of the report, MDIFW is required to respond to our Freedom of Access request by either allowing or denying it, and as of May 15, 2011, had failed to do so.  On March 16, 2011, we also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request regarding this alleged wolf to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and we are awaiting a reply.

UPDATE: We recently received written responses from both the USFWS and MDIFW stating that there are no records of this occurrence.

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