Are Research Rats, Mice, and Birds Protected Species?

It is often said by the animal rights community that research animals like rodents, birds, and fish are not protected by federal laws.  Yesterday, the blog Speaking of Research addressed this confusion and outlined the protections granted to these animals in research and testing despite the claims of anti-research activists.

Although not covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), rodents, birds and fish bred for research are federally protected.   Under the Health Research Extension Act (HREA), statutory authority is granted to the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy).  Institutions receiving federal funds must comply with PHS Policy which contains extensive information on procedures and the care of live vertebrate animals.  This policy, overseen by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), has the authority to suspend projects and even cease funding if violations of PHS Policy are found.  Finally, at the institutional level, private accreditations and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) provides oversight and public transparency for the research.

To read Speaking of Research’s interesting coverage of this myth, please click here.

NABR’s Next Exclusive Webinar is Scheduled for July 19 – Don’t Delay, Register Now!

NABR is once again pleased to announce the return of one of its most requested webinars: the fourth edition of "Q&A with the USDA." Join Drs. Elizabeth Meeks and Bill Stokes, the USDA's Eastern and Western Region Assistant Directors for Animal Welfare Operations, for "Q&A with the USDA: The Next Generation" on Tuesday, July 19 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

This webinar presents a unique opportunity for the biomedical research community to ask questions directly to the leadership of USDA Animal Care’s Animal Welfare Operations who are directly responsible for the oversight of the inspection and reporting process. Following closely on the very successful webinar with the new head of APHIS Animal Care, this webinar provides institutions with a unique opportunity to get your detailed questions concerning compliance with the Animal Welfare regulations answered.

Questions should be submitted in advance to They will be reviewed and formatted to prevent duplication and will be answered in the order they are received, so please submit them as soon as possible.

As in the past we will schedule the session for an hour, but will continue the webinar until all questions have been addressed.

We expect a high number of registrations for this webinar so please register ASAP to guarantee your spot!



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FBR President Explains How Primates are Key to Zika Vaccine Development in Newsweek Op-Ed

Every day we hear more and more about the dangerous impact of the Zika virus and thanks to animal research and testing, science is learning more about the infection and what can be done to stop its spread.  Last week Newsweek featured a submission from Frankie Trull, President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), discussing the role of one specific species in the rush to find a vaccine to the Zika virus: nonhuman primates (NHP).  In the piece titled, “Zika Virus Vaccine Possible with Help of Primate Research,” Ms. Trull makes it clear to the public that primates will play an influential, if not irreplaceable, part in annihilating the ongoing spread of Zika.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that the virus causes microcephaly, whereby babies are born with noticeably smaller heads and underdeveloped brains.  Scientists have also established a link between the virus and meningoencephalitis, a deadly type of brain inflammation, as well as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disease that impairs muscle performance and can lead to paralysis.

Researchers are studying pregnant primates and sharing their data in real-time to examine how different strains of Zika behave in animal models.  Computer models and cell cultures cannot provide an accurate depiction of the virus in living tissue and thusly animal models are engaged to ensure human safety.  As researcher Dr. Koen Van Rompay notes in the piece, "When we study how the virus affects monkeys, it's very predictive of how it affects people and that information enables us to develop vaccines to fight it."

Please click here to read the piece in Newsweek and learn more about primates in Zika research.  Feel free to share your thoughts and concerns in the comments section at the bottom of the article.  As we have noted before, it is important to share your pro-research perspective.  Please also feel free to share the article with your friends, family, colleagues, and on social media.

NABR Presents Annual Analysis of Federal Animal Rights FOIA Requests

In its ongoing efforts to keep the animal research community informed, NABR presents its annual analysis of animal rights FOIA requests, "A Review of Animal Rights FOIA Requests FY15."  This is an in-depth report of every federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made during FY15 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by animal rights groups that you won’t find anywhere else.

NABR’s experts have broken these requests down in an easy-to-read format to help you quickly understand the most commonly requested information, frequency of requests by party, and the cost to taxpayers. Of particular note, the number of requests for information about institutions submitted to NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare have increased dramatically.

While this report focuses specifically on the federal FOIA, we also encourage you to review where your state stands with respect to state-level open records laws at NABR's "FOIA in Your State." (log-in required)

As animal rights groups continue to rely on FOIA to gather intelligence about research projects, it is important to understand the impact of such requests.  Download "A Review of Animal Rights FOIA Requests FY15" today by clicking below, and share it with your staff and counsel.

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One of the ‘AETA 4’ Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Joseph Buddenberg has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for a cross-country fur-industry vandalism and mink-liberation campaign.  Buddendberg was previously known as one of the “AETA 4,” after he faced charges in California for alleged illegal activity against researchers in 2008.  That charge, the first under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), was dismissed in 2010 for lack of indictment documentation. At his sentencing last week, Buddenberg also was ordered by the federal court to pay restitution of $398,272. He pleaded guilty in February to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA),  A codefendant, Nicole Kissane, pleaded guilty to the same charge and is due to be sentenced in June. She will share in payment of the restitution ordered.

The two were arrested in July 2014, charged with participating in a concerted campaign against the fur industry in the summer and fall of 2013 that totaled some 40,000 miles in covert travel before it was over. The pair’s months-long crime spree in at least 5 states is outlined in this Los Angeles Times article.  A Newsweek article, Animal Activists Are Shouting out Their Crimes Online, gives more background on Buddenberg and Kissane, as well as other extremists boasting about their actions anonymously.

European Commission Announces Infringement Procedure against Italy’s Restrictive Animal Research Law

The European Commission (EC) opened an infringement procedure against Italy on April 28 over the country’s restrictions on animal research. The action was prompted after research institutes there complained new Italian animal research regulations put them at a disadvantage compared to researchers in other Member States where there are fewer restrictions. The Italian government has two months to respond to the EC complaint. In order to resolve the infringement procedure, Italy must ensure that its laws abide by the requirements set out in the European Directive (2010/63).

You may recall that Italy passed a law in 2014 banning the breeding of cats, dogs and non-human primates for research purposes, or conducting even minimally invasive experiments that do not require sedation or pain-killers. The law also bans work in xenotransplantation and studies of drugs of abuse.  These restrictions pose serious problems for biomedical research in Italy and make it impossible for Italian science to compete with the other European member states.

The European Animal Research Association (EARA) reports the Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the Italian government, as the first step in the infringement procedure. Earlier this year, EARA’s partner organization Research4Life asked the European Commission on behalf of 37 public and private Italian research institutions for the law to be reassessed. The Commission has informed Italy that its animal research law, legislative decree 26/2014, places “excessive restrictions” on the use of animals for scientific purposes and makes it impossible for Italian science to compete with other European member states.

NABR’s May 3 Webinar Now Available for Online Viewing

NABR’s May 3 webinar, “Meet the New Head of APHIS Animal Care,” is now available online for on-demand viewing.  Did you miss the webinar?  Want to watch it again?  Interested in hosting a lunch-and-learn opportunity for your staff?  All of NABR’s past webinars, including this one, are hosted in an online library in the Members Only section of our website.

Please click here to view “Meet the New Head of APHIS Animal Care.”  You will need your NABR members-only log-in credentials to watch the presentation.

If you have problems logging in or have any questions about the webinar, please contact us at

Another Appeal Filed Claiming AETA is Unconstitutional

In a 115-page brief filed on May 9, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) attorney Rachel Meeropol seeks to convince the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) is unconstitutional. A previous CCR case challenging the AETA as a violation of free speech on behalf of five activists (Blum v. Holder) was dismissed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014. A request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review that decision was denied. CCR also argued the AETA was unconstitutional in defense of Kevin Olliff (aka Johnson) and Tyler Lang. The federal court in Chicago rejected that argument, and Olliff and Lang were tried and convicted of AETA conspiracy. They entered non-cooperating guilty plea agreements, which did not waive their right of appeal.

Court House News Service reports Meeropol said it is irrational to punish nonviolent property damage as terrorism, and her clients have a liberty interest in avoiding being labeled terrorists when they have committed no violent crime. "Designating people who release animals — in order to save them from being killed and made into coats — as terrorists is not only preposterous, it is unconstitutional." "This criminalizes all interstate animal rights advocacy," Meeropol wrote, and "reach[es] a vast amount of protected speech and expressive conduct."

Two previous and similar challenges questioning the constitutionality of the AETA have failed.  Please continue to check your email for NABR's member newsletter, the NABR Update, or visit for updates on this issue.

Newsweek Profiles Convicted Animal Rights Extremists

On March 23, Newsweek published a report about the conviction under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) of Kevin Johnson (a.k.a. Olliff) and Tyler Lang, “Mink on the Run: Animal 'Terrorists' Smacked by Federal Prosecutors.”

The article outlines the events leading to the arrest and prosecution of Johnson and Lang, including the release of 2,000 mink and the aftermath of their attack.  Not only were dozens of the released mink killed by roadway traffic, but the victims were forced to close their business and lost their retirement savings.  Unfortunately, the article does not include a statement from victims about the destruction of their business and minimizes the nature of the crimes committed by the pair, their criminal histories, and the evidence presented against them.

You will recall that Judge St. Eve sentenced Lang to three months time already served, six months of house arrest, six months community confinement and one year of supervised release. He is also required to make a $200,000 restitution payment to the farm operators.  "This is a very serious offense that caused a substantial loss to the victim. It wiped out their business and life savings," St. Eve said at Lang's sentencing hearing, reported the Chicago Tribune. "You destroyed their feelings of security and their trust of others, in addition to their business. Johnson received a three-year prison sentence and was ordered to make a $200,000 restitution payment.

To read the Newsweek article, please click here.

Science Coalition Answers ‘Wasteful’ Research Allegations

The Coalition to Promote Research (CPR) and the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) sponsored a Congressional exhibit and reception April 13, “’Wasteful’ Research? Looking Beyond the Abstract”.  Its purpose was to  provide researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), whose work had been targeted in various Congressional “wastebook” publications, an opportunity to put their research into context for Members of Congress and their staff. The unique Congressional exhibition and reception featured nine researchers from across the disciplinary spectrum.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), author of a Congressional wastebook, attended the event. “This has been enlightening, and we want to make sure we are accurate,” the Senator told the Huffington Post. “It is a learning process.”

The event was co-hosted by the Consortium of Social Science Organizations (COSSA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and Elsevier. Additional organizational sponsors included the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Educational Research Association, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLGU), the Coalition for Life Sciences (CLS), Population Association of America, and the Society for Research in Child Development.  Additional organizational supporters can be found on last page of reception program.