University of Montana research lab criticized for missing hare
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now



Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
[email protected] 
[email protected] 

Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against University of Montana for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act which allowed a rabbit to escape from an enclosure. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


University of Montana research lab criticized for missing hare
From Skylar Rispens,, June 1, 2021

An animal rights advocacy group is criticizing the University of Montana's Mills Lab for losing a snowshoe hare late last year.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! — an Ohio-based group —has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming that the university violated two sections of the Animal Welfare Act and should be fined $10,000 per infraction.

In April, the USDA filed an inspection report stating that the snowshoe hare had not been seen during daily observations at a university research enclosureon Dec. 26. After a five-day search without spotting the hare, it was determined that it likely escaped when a caretaker entered the area carrying items that obscured their line of sight. The hare had not been recovered at the time of the report.

The inspection report recommended the facility install an additional barrier at the entrance to the housing area to ensure the animals are contained. The university had until May 22 to make the recommended changes.

UM was never formally cited or fined for the findings in the inspection report and secured the enclosure, according to university spokesman Dave Kuntz. The USDA's report against the university is now closed.

The university’s captive snowshoe hare facility studies how wildlife adapt to climate change. A snowshoe hare's white fur turns brown in the summer as camouflage. However, as global temperatures rise, the snowpack in their habitat depletes before their fur transitions, leaving the hares vulnerable to predators.

“They tag these snowshoe hares, have them in western Montana in these habitats and examine how long they can make it,” Kuntz said. “Then they'll run those studies to start making the connection that climate change is really negatively impacting the species.”
The research project was featured this spring in the Netflix documentary series “Life in Color with David Attenborough.”

The research facility at the University of Montana recently renewed its accreditation for the next five years through the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. The accreditation program evaluates facilities internationally that use animals in researching, teaching or testing. Over 1,000 organizations in 49 countries have earned accreditation.

See also:
Return to Media Coverage