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Laura Bies

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  1. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bird-Safe Building Act last week, as part of a larger infrastructure bill. The bipartisan bill is designed to reduce bird mortality by calling for federal buildings to incorporate bird-safe building materials and design features. Some federal building already incorporate bird-friendly design techniques; the Bird-Safe Building Act would require the government to apply similar measures, where practicable, to all new and existing federal buildings The infrastructure bill also included the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide about $1.4 billion to state, territorial and tribal wildlife agencies for the conservation of thousands of fish and wildlife species vulnerable to extinction. The infrastructure package now goes to the Senate, which is working on its own infrastructure legislation and therefore unlikely to pass the House version.
  2. AAALAC International, a private accreditation organization, announced that it will adopt the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition as an ‘AAALAC Reference Resource,’ with two clarifications: Clarification #1: These Guidelines were designed for use by members of the veterinary profession who carry out or oversee the euthanasia of animals. Euthanasia for scientific purposes is under the purview of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Oversight Body (IACUC/OB). In these situations, “The IACUC[/OB] has mandatory veterinary input and considers animal welfare, requirements for postmortem tissue specimens, and interference of euthanasia agents or methods with study results.” Clarification #2: The Guidelines apply to methods of euthanasia which are strictly defined, such that “[w]hile some methods of slaughter and depopulation might meet the criteria for euthanasia identified by the Panel on Euthanasia (POE), others will not and comments in this document are limited to methods used for euthanasia.” With regard to free-ranging wildlife, the Guidelines acknowledge that “... the quickest and most humane means of terminating the life of free-ranging wildlife in a given situation may not always meet all criteria established for euthanasia (i.e., distinguishes between euthanasia and methods that are more accurately characterized as humane killing).” These limitations in application of the guidelines notwithstanding, AAALAC International emphasizes that death of animals for scientific purposes, including the method of death, is under the purview of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Oversight Body (IACUC/OB). The OC was encouraged to see the second clarification and has contacted the Council to urge it to consider affirmatively accepting rapid cardiac compression, in addition to the more general statement in the clarification. Background: The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) earlier this year released the 2020 revision of its euthanasia guidelines, in which they failed to re-classify rapid cardiac compression. The OC has long argued, to the AVMA and to other organizations and group which rely on the AVMA guidelines, that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the use of rapid cardiac compression. The OC will continue to make sure other organizations are aware of the scientific justification for rapid cardiac compression.
  3. This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 11 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including OrnithologyExchange and the Ornithological Council. The USDA has reached an agreement with two organizations who sued over APHIS’s failure to issue animal welfare regulations under the Animal Welfare Act for birds not bred for use in research. That agreement, which was signed by the U.S. District Court judge in early June, calls for the agency to begin a rulemaking process within 90 days. Per the court order, USDA committed to: Ø publishing a notice for listening sessions by the end of August, to take place within one year of the date of the order Ø publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking within 18 months of publication of the notice of listening sessions Ø publishing a final rule within a year of the publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking Ø submitting reports on their progress in promulgating the regulation every 90 days Background: Currently, USDA regulations exempt rats, mice, and birds from the Animal Welfare Regulations. After a lawsuit in 2000, the department agreed to change its regulations to include rats, mice, and birds. Before any regulations were promulgated, a provision in the 2002 Farm Bill codified the exclusion of rats, mice, and birds from AWA regulations. However, a typographical error in the bill means that only birds bred for use in research were excluded from AWA jurisdiction. In 2004, APHIS published an advance notice of public rulemaking, asking for public input about how to regulate the care and use of birds not bred for research. The agency never completed the rulemaking, and their failure to develop a rule led to the lawsuit by the Avian Welfare Coalition and the American Anti-Vivisection Society. The OC filed comments, filed in response to the 2004 notice of proposed rulemaking, suggested that given the number of wild bird species, the enormous variation among species, and the lack of experience and information pertaining to the keeping of most species in captivity that regulations would necessarily have to be very flexible and nonspecific. We also noted that inspection of field sites was unrealistic at best given that the USDA does not have enough inspectors, much less inspectors knowledgeable in field biology, to inspect field sites and that it would be unreasonable to expect wildlife biologists to bear the costs of such inspections. Any regulations promulgated by USDA may pertain only to birds studied in captivity, as existing regulations pertaining to other taxa cover topics such as housing, feeding, water, sanitation, transit, and handling. NOTE: The Ornithological Council believes strongly that birds, both wild and captive-bred, should be treated humanely, both in the laboratory and in research conducted in the wild. It is for this reason that we publish the peer-reviewed Guidelines to the Use of Wild Birds in Research. Our objection to the possible inclusion of birds in the Animal Welfare Act regulations is based solely on the fact that it is likely to impose additional burdens on research without producing an improvement in the humane treatment of birds, because, as explained below, this research is already regulated under the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, which makes the Animal Act applicable to all vertebrates. We object only to duplicative and potentially conflicting sets of regulations and burdensome procedural compliance, without contributing to the humane treatment of birds in research.
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