Tag Archives: animal rights advocates

UW-Madison researcher changes monkey study that drew outcry

A mental health researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison won’t take newborn monkeys away from their mothers as part of an upcoming study.

Dr. Ned Kalin told the Wisconsin State Journal that complaints from animal rights groups weren’t behind the change in the study. Rather, he says other research found anxiety isn’t increased when newborn monkeys are separated from their mothers.

“We’re changing the experiment based on science, not based on pressure that I’ve had,” Kalin said.

More than 383,000 people had signed an online petition asking that the study be canceled. The study plans to put monkeys through stress tests and euthanize them after a year to study their brains.

Hannah West, executive director of Alliance for Animals and the Environment, said the group still opposes the study. But she said she’s happy the newborns won’t be taken from mothers, no matter the reason.

“The part about removing the babies from the mothers really touches the heartstrings,” West said. “But these tests are really invasive, and they’re killing the monkeys at a really young age.”

Kalin said the study is being done to try to better understand anxiety and depression. Such studies could lead to new drugs and treatments, he said.

Another study done by Kalin had used monkeys that were neglected or abused by their mothers and were removed from them. That study found those monkeys were not more anxious than others not removed from their mothers.

“We actually found less anxiety, to our surprise,” Kalin said.

Kalin plans to begin the new study by June. It was approved nearly a year ago by the school’s animal research committee, and it will include 40 rhesus macaque monkeys.

Animal advocates, farm workers sue FDA over animal growth drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of several ractopamine-based animal drugs is being challenged by animal advocates and farm workers. The groups are suing the FDA for failing to take into account the drugs’ cumulative effects on animal behavior, worker safety, wildlife or the nation’s waterways.

The lawsuit focuses on ractopamine, a drug fed to farm animals to promote rapid weight gain. The drug has been banned in dozens of countries and is said to cause death, lameness, stiffness, trembling and shortness of breath in farm animals.

The groups are suing because FDA has allowed millions of pigs, turkeys and cows to be fed ractopamine-based animal drugs without considering the cumulative impacts of the agency’s actions. The drugs include new combinations of ractopamine with controversial antibiotics and steroids. These drugs remain active in animal waste, and when sprayed on fields, or spilled from manure lagoons, they can wreak havoc on habitat, wildlife and endangered species.

“The FDA’s actions have far-reaching impacts on millions of animals, millions of acres of habitat, and thousands of farm workers throughout the United States,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, who works in the Animal Protection Litigation department at The Humane Society of the United States. “America’s animal factories are pumping out uncounted tons of ractopamine-laced animal waste into the environment each year, and the FDA has no idea what the long-term environmental effects might be.” 

Ractopamine can make animals severely stressed and difficult to handle, increasing the likelihood of injuring or killing farm workers. Workers’ exposure to antibiotics like Tylosin also endangers them and their families because exposure to the antibiotics can leave them more vulnerable to dangerous antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

“The wide-spread use of these drugs adds another layer of risk for farm workers, who are already doing some of the most dangerous jobs in America on factory farms, and puts farm worker communities at increased risk of illness and disease” said Erik Nicholson, national vice-president for United Farm Workers of America. 

“Consumers are increasingly demanding humane treatment of farmed animals and the U.S. should be at the forefront of animal protection rather than lagging behind the international curve,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco by The Humane Society of the United States, The United Farm Workers, and The Animal Legal Defense Fund, asks the Court to set-aside FDA’s approvals of the drugs at issue while the agency performs the environmental review required under federal law.

From the plaintiffs in the case:

• Ractopamine is fed to between 60 to 80 percent of all U.S. pigs, cattle and turkeys.

• Tylosin is an antibiotic given to livestock to promote growth and FDA considers it “critically important” to human medicine. Tylosin-resistant bacteria has been found in the soil and air downwind of factory farms.  

• Monensin is a livestock antibiotic administered to promote growth. Even in low doses it has direct toxic effects on soil animals and presents a potential ecological risk.

• Melengestrol is a synthetic steroid hormone used in dairy and beef cattle. The European Union prohibits the use of melengestrol because of the potential risks to human health from hormone residues in bovine meat.

• The FDA has never prepared an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment of the cumulative and combined effects of its approvals of Ractopamine and Ractopamine-based combination drugs on the vast majority of the pigs, cattle, and turkeys raised for food in the United States, nor even presented its decisions to the public for review or comment by outside experts.

At least 4 wolves killed in first day of Wisconsin hunt

Hunters shot and killed at least four wolves in the opening 24 hours of Wisconsin’s first organized wolf hunt, the state Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

The first reported killing – a male – took place at 7:15 a.m. Monday in Rusk County, according to the DNR website. Another hunter in Vilas County took a female at 8:30 a.m.

A third hunter killed a female at 4:30 p.m. in Iron County and a fourth killed a male at 6:15 p.m. in Eau Claire County.

The hunt opened Monday morning, but hunters aren’t required to report kills for 24 hours. As of mid-afternoon Monday the DNR hadn’t received any kill reports.

The hunt is scheduled to end Feb. 28, but it could close sooner because the DNR has set a statewide limit of 116 wolves with zone-specific limits.

As of Tuesday morning, hunters could still kill 31 wolves in the far northwest, 19 in the far northeast, 17 in the mid-northwest, 22 in the central, five in the mid-northeast and 18 in the south.

The DNR has awarded 1,160 wolf licenses through a computerized lottery, although little more than half of the winners had purchased one by Monday morning.

Wildlife officials estimate as many as 850 wolves roam Wisconsin and 3,000 more live in Minnesota. Farmers have complained about wolf attacks on livestock.

Federal officials opened the door to hunting in both states when they removed Great Lakes wolves from the endangered species list earlier this year.

Legislators in Wisconsin and Minnesota quickly passed laws establishing hunts, and hunt legislation is pending in Michigan.

The hunts are a flashpoint of contention.

Animal welfare advocates insist wolf populations in both Minnesota and Wisconsin are too fragile to support hunting.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves have asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to halt that state’s hunt before it begins on Nov. 3.

On Monday, the Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals notified federal wildlife official they plan to sue to force Great Lakes wolves back on the endangered species list. The groups allege the states are mismanaging the species.

Georgia Parham, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest region, said in a statement Tuesday the agency doesn’t comment on pending legal action.