The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is the latest research university to settle out of court with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over charges that it violated the Animal Welfare Act. In an agreement filed September 23, 2005, UCSF said it would pay a $92,500 fine but did not admit to mistreating research animals.

In spite of a recent spate of such settlements with USDA—John Hopkins University settled for $25,000 in February 2005 and the University of Nevada, Reno, agreed to pay $11,400 in May 2005—scientists in charge of animal welfare at other institutions say that official complaints from USDA remain rare.

"This has happened periodically at different institutions over the years," said Howard Rush, director of the unit for laboratory animal medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "I'm not aware that it's more strict than it's been before."

USDA filed a complaint...

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