The use of vertebrate animals in research and education in the United States is subject to a number of regulations, policies, and guidelines under the immediate oversight of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs), which are charged with ensuring the ethical and appropriate use of the animal subjects. In almost all instances, this regulatory and oversight landscape of animal use has been developed for biomedical research environments and domestic animals bred specifically for research purposes. When the research activities involve wild species, especially in their natural habitat rather than a laboratory, oversight personnel and investigators alike struggle to apply these policies.
A new, comprehensive review (published in the ILAR Journal, the peer-reviewed, theme-oriented publication of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) of the National Academy of Sciences) discusses the various policies, regulations, and guidance documents for animal use in the context of wildlife research. The publication, which follows the model of the highly influential IACUC Handbook (Silverman et al. 2014) compares the expectations of the various oversight agencies and how these expectations are met when working with wild vertebrates. The document is an important resource that will help IACUCs can use available resources to ensure that activities involving wild species are conducted in compliance with existing regulations and policies and in ways that are biologically appropriate for wildlife. It also explains the two overlapping but nonidentical federal policies (Animal Welfare Act regulations vs. Public Health Service Policy) and how to determine which of the policies should be applied.
The authors include Ellen Paul, Executive Director of the Ornithological Council, Robert S. Sikes, Ph.D (Chair of the Animal Care and Use Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists), Steven J. Beaupre, PhD (Professor and Chair in the Department of Biology at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and Past President of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists) and John C. Wingfield, PhD is Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California, Davis, and Past Director of the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems of the BIO division of the National Science Foundation.
NOTE: The publication has been made open access by ILAR.
Robert S. Sikes,
Steven J. Beaupre,
and John C. Wingfield
Animal Welfare Policy: Implementation in the Context of Wildlife Research—Policy Review and Discussion of Fundamental IssuesILAR J (2015) 56 (3): 312-334 doi:10.1093/ilar/ilv073