Last updated on May 6, 2003
It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia that personal information about citizens will be collected only to the extent necessary to provide the service or benefit desired; that only appropriate information will be collected; that the citizen shall understand the reason the information is collected and be able to examine their personal record which is maintained by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), according to the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act of Virginia (Code of Virginia, §§ 2.2-3800 through 2.2-3809).
Virginia law requires that state bodies not collect personal information about citizens unless it is required to provide services for the citizen. When personal information is collected, it must be protected from unauthorized access, use or disclosure, and the DWR is required to provide a prescribed procedure by which you may learn the purpose for which information has been recorded and how the agency will use and disseminate it.
DWR does not capture personal information about any visitor to its site without their permission. When you browse the agency’s site without logging on to any of the interactive online services, you do so anonymously. Information, such as your name, address, phone number, or e-mail address, is not collected as you browse. Information, such as your domain name, Internet Protocol number, browser type, and date and time of your visit, is collected, but not tied to your personal identity. DWR uses this information to track the number of customers who visit the site and identify the most popular pages so that the agency can improve site content and accessibility.
Though personal information may be required either by law or in order for the DWR to provide a requested service, in doing so the agency is subject to the requirements for administering information systems as established in the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act of Virginia (Code of Virginia, §§ 2.2-3800 through 2.2-3809). A different agency or entity, whose practices are not under the control of DWR, may regulate pages that appear after you click on a link.
When you log on to one of the agency’s current online services, such as the Wildlife Information Online Service or queryable Boat Registration Database, or future services, such as online watercraft registration or purchase of hunting or fishing license, the personal information that you submit is captured to enable you to conduct business with DWR. In addition, the agency collects the following information about your visit: Internet Protocol address, browser type, the name of the domain from which you access the Internet, and the date and time of your visit. As previously mentioned, this additional information allows the agency to track the number of customers who visit our site and identify the most popular pages so that it can improve site content and accessibility. The personal information you provide is required to enable you to complete various purchase or subscription transactions with the agency online and for DWR to deliver the requested services. Once registered with DWR, you are eligible to request additional services that may require you to provide additional personal information. DWR only collect, retain, and use personal information when it believes it is essential, and allowed by law, to conduct business and provide products and services. Should you not desire to provide the requested personal information, DWR will not be able to provide you with online services.
Under policy of the Board of Wildlife Resources, all comments submitted during the public comment period for proposed regulations must include your name, address, and telephone number. If you use the online submission form, you will be required to provide this information prior to submitting any comments. DWR does request your e-mail address to facilitate its interaction with you about your comments, future proposed regulations, and other related items of interest about the DWR, but you are not required to provide that information.
Personal information that you provide to the agency is safeguarded according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Information that you provide on the online surveys is used to improve the online services that the agency offers and to determine your level of satisfaction with the DWR site and services.
When visiting the site, DWR encourages you to contact it if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or would like a return call. DWR will request your name, the subject of your question or comment, and your e-mail address or telephone number. This information is used solely to respond to your inquiry. If you would like the agency to mail you materials, DWR will request your mailing address so that it may provide the appropriate materials. DWR may share this customer information with other individuals, organizations, or with advertisers, unless you indicate otherwise.
Under policy of the Board of Wildlife Resources, all comments submitted during the public comment period for proposed regulations must include your name, address, and telephone number. If you e-mail your comments to the agency, you will be required to provide this information for your comments to be considered in the regulation review process. DWR does request your e-mail address to facilitate its interaction with you about your comments, future proposed regulations, and other related items of interest about the DWR, but you are not required to provide that information.
Constituent Database and Mailing List
DWR maintains a database of interested persons who voluntarily request to be contacted about agency work and activities. This database enables DWR to send information, such as meeting notices and other announcements, to such persons quickly and efficiently. DWR also maintains an e-mail list of qualified individuals and organizations that have specifically requested to receive the agency’s weekly Outdoor Report, Fishing Report, or similar publication. DWR may authorize other persons to use these databases or e-mail lists for a purpose other than those stated above, but will only include your information unless you indicate otherwise.
Any personal information that is collected and retained by DWR is maintained in compliance with the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act of Virginia (Code of Virginia, §§ 2.2-3800 through 2.2-3809). The agency does not share, sell or trade e-mail addresses, information collected on surveys or any other information about its online customers to any entity except as provided for or required by the Code of Virginia § 2.2-3806, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, or other law. Under FOIA, any records in DWR’s possession at the time of a Freedom of Information Request might be subject to being inspected by or disclosed to members of the public. If necessary, DWR may disclose user information if it has reason to believe that disclosing such information is necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against an individual who attempts, even unintentionally, to gain unauthorized access to DWR information or to disrupt our web site.
Use of “Cookies”
DWR maintains security standards and procedures regarding unauthorized access to customer information to prevent unauthorized removal or alteration of data. When you browse public areas of the DWR web site, none of your personal information is captured or stored by the agency. DWR protects its records in accordance with its obligations as defined by applicable Virginia statues, including, but not limited to, the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act of Virginia, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, and by any applicable U.S. federal laws.
Information Accuracy and Your Rights
DWR has established procedures to ensure that information is as accurate and current as is practical to enable us to conduct business with you. Although the agency strives to do things right the first time, it also responds to requests to correct inaccurate information in a timely manner. You have the right to review the record the DWR maintains about you in order to verify its accuracy. You may do this by contacting the individual listed below. If you find errors in your personal record, or desire that the agency purge your data from its records, you must contact the individual listed below. DWR employee access to personally identifiable information is restricted to only those employees who need access in order to perform their assigned duties.
DWR welcomes your comments and invites you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns:
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228-0778
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) provides links to many web sites that are not controlled, maintained, or regulated by DWR or any organization affiliated with DWR, and as such DWR is NOT responsible for the content of those web sites. Use of information obtained from those web sites is voluntary, and reliance on that information should only be undertaken after an independent review of its accuracy. Reference at those web sites to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, or otherwise DOES NOT constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or preference by DWR. The agency tries to screen all sites included on its web site, but cannot control the content they possess. Any inappropriate information or links they have on their site that pertains to DWR, its authority, or related activities, should be reported to DWR and can be e-mailed to the Web Manager at email@example.com.
Freedom of Information Rights and Responsibilities
Rights of Requesters and Responsibilities of the Department of Wildlife Resources Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located § 2.2-3700 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.
A public record is any writing or recording — regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format — that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.
The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.
Your FOIA Rights
- You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.
- You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
- If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.
Making a Request for Records from the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR)
- You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.
- From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.
- Your request must identify the records you are seeking with “reasonable specificity.” This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.
- Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of DWR, nor does it require DWR to create a record that does not exist.
- You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by DWR in the regular course of business.
- For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records.
- If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff’s efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.
To request records from DWR you may direct your request to the Department freedom of information officer via email to FOIA@dwr.virginia.gov or by mailing/calling:
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Attn: Freedom of Information Officer
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228-0778
Phone: 804-367-8341; fax: 804-367-0405
You may also contact the freedom of information officer with questions you have concerning requesting records from DWR.
In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The Council may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 804-698-1810 or (toll free) 1-866-448-4100.
DWR’s Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request
- DWRmust respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. “Day One” is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.
- The reason behind your request for public records from DWR is irrelevant, and we cannot ask you why you want the records before we respond to your request. FOIA does, however, allow DWR to ask you to provide your name and legal address.
- FOIA requires that DWR make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
- We provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
- We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption. If all of the records are being withheld, we must send you a response in writing. That writing must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.
- We provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records. We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption. In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld, and must provide you with the remainder of the record. We must provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
- If it is practically impossible for DWRto respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.
- If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production of the records before we go to court to ask for more time.
- You may have to pay for the records that you request from DWR. FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests. This would include items like staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records. It cannot include general overhead costs.
- You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested. This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.
For requests estimated to cost $200 or less:
- If we estimate that it will cost $200 or less to respond to your request, we will not require you to pay a deposit before proceeding with our response. We may charge you for the cost at the time we provide you with the response.
For requests estimated to cost more than $200:
- If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we will require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request. The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.
- If we estimate a cost to respond exceeding $200 and you pay a deposit for it, and if the actual cost of responding is less than the amount you deposit, then we will refund the overpayment back to you.
- If we estimate a cost to respond exceeding $200 and you pay a deposit for it, and if the actual cost of responding is going to exceed the amount deposited, then we will suspend work on the request at the point the deposit is expended, and before proceeding to incur any further expense on your request will and advise you of the status and your options. You will have the option of requesting and receiving an estimate of the further cost we require for completing a full response to your request; or at your option you may accept as DWR’s response to your request only the results that are paid for by your initial deposit.
For all requests regardless of estimated cost:
- If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, DWR will require payment of the past-due bill before it will respond to your new FOIA request.
Additional Governing Statutes
The following records are also governed by other statutes in addition to FOIA:
- Active criminal investigations are governed by the restrictions set forth under § 52-8.3 of the Code of Virginia.
- Criminal history records are governed by the restrictions set forth under § 19.2-389.
- Boating records and boating accident investigation reports are governed by § 29.1-700 et seq.
- Motor vehicle accident reports and information regarding accidents are governed by § 46.2-379 and § 46.2-380.
Commonly Used Exemptions
The Code of Virginia allows public bodies to withhold certain records from public disclosure. DWR commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions:
- Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
- Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
- Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))
- Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))
- Criminal incident information likely to jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution or the safety of an individual, or cause a suspect to flee or evade detection, or result in the destruction of evidence (§ 2.2-3706 (B))
- Complaints, memoranda, correspondence and evidence relating to a criminal investigation or prosecution, other than criminal incident information (§ 2.2-3706 (F) (1))
- Portions of noncriminal incident or other investigative reports containing identifying information of a personal, medical, or financial nature provided to a law-enforcement agency where the release of such information would jeopardize the safety or privacy of any person (§ 2.2-3706 (G) (1))
- Investigative techniques or procedures, or identity of any undercover officer or individual providing information about a crime or criminal activity under a promise of anonymity (§ 2.2-3706 (D, E))
- Portions of any records containing information related to plans for or resources dedicated to undercover operations (§ 2.2-3706 (G) (2))
- Plans and information to prevent or respond to terrorist activity (§ 2.2-3705.2 (4))
- Records that would reveal surveillance techniques, personnel deployments, alarm or security systems or technologies, or plans or protocols, that would jeopardize the security of any government facility or the safety of persons using it (§ 2.2-3705.2 (6))
- Tests or examinations used, administered or prepared for purposes of evaluation of any employee or employment seeker’s qualifications or aptitude for employment, retention, or promotion, or qualifications for any license or certificate (§ 2.2-3705.1 (4))
- Records of background investigations of applicants for law-enforcement agency employment or other confidential administrative investigations conducted pursuant to law (§ 2.2-3706 (G) (3))
- Site specific location information for threatened, endangered, or otherwise imperiled animal and plant species (§ 2.2-3705.1 (10))
- Appraisals and cost estimates of real property subject to a proposed transaction prior its completion (§ 2.2-3705.1 (8))
- Names and addresses of subscribers to Virginia Wildlife magazine, published by DWR (§ 2.2-3705.6 (10))
Revised June 5, 2018
DWR provides content in several formats that require plug-ins, or separate browser components, to properly view. All required plug-ins are free to use.
The plug-ins used are:
- Microsoft Word documents (.doc/.docx): Word Viewer
- Adobe PDF files (.pdf): Adobe Reader