Case Filed To Obtain Scientific Data Relied on By Park Service to Kill Deer in Rock Creek Park

Today, we filed a case in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) recent decision to withhold under FOIA’s Exemption 5 purely factual information concerning the impact (or lack thereof) of native white tailed deer on vegetation in Rock Creek Park. Our clients submitted a FOIA request to the USGS seeking the scientific data collected, and the statistical analyses conducted, in support of a report on the impacts of the native white-tailed deer on vegetation in Rock Creek Park. This research is highly relevant to the National Park Service’s 2013 decision to begin an annual cull of the deer in Rock Creek Park—the first time any wildlife has been killed in this national park since it was created in 1890. In response to our clients’ FOIA request, the USGS withheld a broad array of records—including records that contain purely scientific data—under the exemption for agency materials protected by the deliberative process, even though such information is entirely factual in nature and is therefore not protected from public disclosure under any exemption to FOIA.  A copy of the Complaint can be found here.