Watchdog group accuses UTEP in deaths of research animals
By Daniel Borunda, ElPasoTimes.com, August 25, 2015
An animal research watchdog group has filed a complaint against the University of Texas at El Paso after two mouselike rodents died from dehydration during a study this summer.
A UTEP official said Tuesday that the deaths in June of two prairie voles
were an accident, but the watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation Now said
that the small creatures suffered and died when their water source became
clogged in a case of "deadly incompetence" that deserves to be fined by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 17.
The prairie vole — a rodent known for monogamy that lives in grasslands from northeastern New Mexico to Canada — is the focus of social behavioral studies being done by the UTEP Biology Department.
"The University of Texas-El Paso's incompetence caused the death of two
animals after they suffered for a prolonged period without water," Stacey M.
Ellison, a research analyst with SAEN, wrote in a complaint letter last week
to the director of the western region of the USDA.
SAEN's letter alleges that UTEP violated the Animal Welfare Act, should be investigated and get the maximum fine of up to $10,000 for each infraction.
UTEP Executive Vice President Richard Adauto said the deaths were an accident and the problem has been fixed. "We reported it to the right federal authorities and we responded to their inspection and, essentially, the case is closed at this point," Adauto said.
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