Both the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy that implements the AWA as to research conducted under grants from PHS agencies (such as the National Institutes of Health) require “the research facility to ensure that all scientists, research technicians, animal technicians, and other personnel involved in animal care, treatment, and use are qualified to perform their duties.
This responsibility shall be fulfilled in part through the provision of training and instruction to those personnel.” In practice, most institutions fulfill this requirement by requiring that every researcher, faculty member, and students who will handle live vertebrates take a training program, sometimes annually. Over 1,130 universities and research institutions now provide this mandatory training through an suite of online courses offered by CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative; https://www.citiprogram.org/).
Founded in March 2000 as a collaboration between the University of Miami and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to develop a web based training program in human research subjects protections, CITI soon developed a number of training modules for non-human animal research subject protections. In late 2011, CITI asked the Ornithological Council and the American Society of Mammalogists to review a draft module on wildlife research. That review led to a full re-write of the draft by OC Executive Director Ellen Paul and ASM IACUC Chair Robert Sikes, joined by Steven Beaupre, President of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and John Bryan, a wildlife veterinarian who chairs the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the National Park Service.
After informal review by and feedback from numerous wildlife biologists, we submitted the draft to CITI. After conducting its own review, CITI decided in July 2013 to accept this module. It will soon be available on the CITI website for researchers and for the IACUC members who review wildlife protocols.
We hope that having animal welfare information appropriate to wildlife research will help ornithologists to better understand the concerns of the IACUCs and help IACUCs to review protocols with a better understanding of the purposes for wildlife research and the vastly different conditions in which this research is usually conducted.