In 2013, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine petitioned the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care program to change the Animal Welfare Act regulations:
The petition basically asked Animal Care to specify that alternatives to procedures that cause more than slight pain or distress, if available, must be used and also asked that Animal Care set standards for the adequacy of a search for alternatives.
In 2015, Animal Care published a request for comments about the petition.
The Ornithological Council, along with many other scientific organizations, opposed the petition because the proposed changes would not enhance the welfare of animals studied in research but could add to the burden and time involved in writing research protocols and obtaining approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The OC comments also stressed the fact that compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and its regulations - which were written for biomedical research - pose challenges in the context of wildlife biology. A one-size fits all regulation would not, in fact, fit all. We suggested that nonbinding guidance would be far more useful, more flexible, and could be tailored to specific types of research.
A copy of the OC comments are appended.