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The Other Animal-Welfare Documents APHIS Deleted

Follow up to previous postings, Animal welfare information wiped from USDA website and Some animal welfare data removed from USDA site is restored – via AltGov2 (kudos and thanks to Russ Kick and note that AltGov 2 is another new website project by Russ) “They did it again. At the beginning of February, the USDA’s animal-welfare division (APHIS) suddenly deleted tens of thousands of documents. This led to a media firestorm and a national outcry, including demands from Senators and Representatives that the database be restored. So what did APHIS do? While this was happening, they quietly deleted another set of documents from their website. On February 24, they wiped out all documents having to do with around 860 Freedom of Information Act requests from 2010 and 2011 (other years were never posted). For each request, APHIS had posted the request letter and the response letter, plus any documents that were released as a result, which covered investigations of breeders and zoos, a list of people fined for mistreating horses, the practice of shooting wildlife from helicopters, the safety of rabies vaccines, and a database of every marine mammal in captivity in the US. For most of these requests, there were APHIS documents released, and in the majority of cases, there were multiple documents. My estimate is that well over 1,000 documents were pulled, maybe even 2,000, totaling over 10,000 pages. (And this doesn’t include all the request and response letters. Counting those would add another 1,720 documents.) This was the location: And in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, you can still see the listings of FOIA requests, although you can’t get to the documents. (APHIS has left up the documents related to one FOIA request – it involves their investigation into how Monsanto’s transgenic wheat showed up in an Oregon farmer’s field.) Retrieving each individual document was a multi-step process that involved going back and forth between the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Google’s cache. Because webpages and other documents usually disappear from Google’s cache days after they go offline, the clock was ticking. Not every request resulted in documents being released, and for the ones that did, those documents weren’t always retrievable. But for the requests that led to documents being released, which were still retrievable, I grabbed what sounded like the most important ones. HERE I’ve reposted the documents associated with 79 requests. (APHIS’s description of each request is in quote marks, and each number is the number APHIS assigned to that FOIA request.)”

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