FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Julie Lewin and The Fund for Animals, Inc.,
against Docket #FIC 93-187
Wildlife Division, State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection,
Respondent November 10, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 7, 1993, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed July 2, 1993, and amended by letter dated July 6, 1993, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that their requests for certain documents pertaining to licensed nuisance wildlife control operators had been denied.
3. It is found that the complainants by letter dated May 3, 1993 requested copies of the following:
a. annual reports submitted for 1992 by all state licensed nuisance wildlife control operators ("NWCOs"), as provided by Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 26-47-1(b);
b. permits issued in 1992 under Regulations 26-74-1(e); and
c. complaints received by the repondent during 1991, 1992 and 1993 as provided in Regulations 26-47-1(f).
4. It is found that by letter dated May 11, 1993, the respondent replied to the complainants by indicating that it would review its files to locate the requested documents and to determine which may have contained privileged information.
Docket #FIC 93-187 Page 2
5. It is found that by letter dated May 17, 1993 to the respondent, the complainants requested to be informed of the probable cost of copying the requested records, and to review the documents first if the cost was considerable.
6. It is found that by letter dated June 25, 1993, the respondent indicated that it had copied some documents and the what the cost of those copies would be, but that it would not disclose nuisance wildlife control operator annual reports pursuant to 26-67, G.S.
7. It is found that the complainant Lewin visited the offices of the respondent on or about July 1, 1993 to view the available documents, at which time she asked for and was denied the opportunity to inspect the reverse side of certain nuisance wildlife control operator special permits (the "permits").
8. Section 26-47, G.S., provides that the respondent may issue permits to trap or kill wildlife damaging crops.
9. Section 26-47, G.S., also provides that the respondent may license persons to engage in the business of controlling so-called nuisance wildlife.
10. Section 26-47-1(b) of the Regulations requires NWCOs annually to submit a report including the number, species, date and location of animals captured, killed or relocated, and other information which the respondent may deem necessary.
11. Section 26-47-1(e) requires NWCOs to obtain permits to trap or kill certain wildlife, which permits describe the methods and procedures to be used.
12. It is found that the reverse side of such permits contains the NWCOs' report on its trapping activities completed pursuant to the permit.
13. It is found that the annual reports submitted by NWCOs consist of compilations of every individual trapping and/or killing report, and not a summary report.
14. It is found that the documents described in paragraphs 12 and 13, above, are the only documents at issue between the parties.
15. It is concluded that the documents described in paragraphs 12 and 13, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
16. The respondent maintains that the annual reports and the reports on the reverse sides of the permits are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 26-67a, G.S.
Docket #FIC 93-187 Page 3
17. Section 26-67a, G.S., provides:
Notwithstanding any provision of section 1-19 to the contrary, no person shall obtain, attempt to obtain or release to any person or government agency any identifiable individual record of or information derived from any report submitted in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (11) of section 26-66, without the consent of the person making the report, except that the commissioner may authorize the release of such information for the purposes of wildlife research, management or development.
18. Section 26-66(11), G.S., authorizes the respondent to adopt regulations to establish requirements and procedures for tagging and reporting birds or animals taken by hunting or trapping, and to adopt regulations and orders in the interest of public safety to prevent unreasonable conduct and abuses by hunters.
19. The complainants maintain that section 26-66(11), G.S., regulates the activities of individual sports trappers, not commercial NWCOs.
20. It is concluded that the documents requested by the complainants are submitted in accordance with the provisions of 26-47, G.S., and the regulations promulgated thereunder, and not in accordance with the provisions of 26-66(11), G.S.
21. It is therefore concluded that the documents requested by the complainants are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 26-67a, and that the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-15, G.S., by failing to make the records available for inspection and copying.
Docket #FIC 93-187 Page 4
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall, within one week of the date of issuance of this Final Decision, make available to the complainants for inspection and copying the public records described in paragraphs 12 and 13 of the findings, above. The respondent may charge for any such copies the amount permitted by 1-15, G.S.
2. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 10, 1993.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 93-187 Page 5
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
The Fund for Animals, Inc.
43 Vera Street
West Hartford, CT 06119
Wildlife Division, State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection
c/o Mr. George Brys, Acting Director
Dept. of Environmental Protection
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission