Ruling On Lab Rodents Could Reduce Oversight Of All Animal Sites
WASHINGTON--Animal rights activists are pleased about a federal judge's ruling last month that the United States Department of Agriculture acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in excluding rats, mice, and birds from its interpretation of a federal law meant to protect research animals. But the judge's favorable decision in their suit could result in less-frequent inspections of research facilities housing these and other warm-blooded animals, says a government official responsible for enforcing the law.

On January 8, in the U.S. District Court here, Judge Charles Richey ruled that the Agriculture Department had no valid reason to omit from inspection, called for under the 1971 amended version of the Animal Welfare Act, an estimated 15 to 20 million rodents and birds--representing 85 percent of all animals used in research labs across the country. The law requires USDA to register...

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