We know mice, rats, pigs, cats and dogs are research subjects. Even primates, our closest relatives, are subject to the horrors of our research labs. And, of course, orcas are subject to research work at theme parks.
But grizzlies? Who knew Washington State University kept grizzly bears in captivity for research? Turns out that at least 15 grizzlies have died in the past six years under the “care” of WSU research labs, according to public records obtained by The Spokesman-Review in Spokane.
“Five were put down for experiments that required body-tissue samples. Four were euthanized as cubs to control the number of bears in captivity. At least two died because of human error, and the deaths of other animals have raised questions about WSU’s treatment of research animals,” reporter Chad Sokol wrote.
In 2010, two grizzly cubs had to be euthanized after nearly starving to death because they failed to go into hibernation.
In 2014, an 11-year-old bear named Mica was found dead after a tear in her uterus spilled infectious fluid into her abdomen. Mica had been given a contraceptive called megestrol acetate, which the doctor who dissected Mica wrote is “an established risk factor” for uterine infections in dogs and “may be the primary inciting factor in this bear.”
“Regardless, records show all of the center’s female bears were on a megestrol regimen a year later,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now in Cincinnati is calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fine WSU for “infractions related to animal treatment, citing bear deaths and the overdosing of three bighorn sheep,” the paper reported.
Let’s support his request. Please email Dr. Robert Gibbens, director of the USDA’s western region:
Or call him at (970) 494-7478 — asking that he fine WSU for these grizzly deaths.
Sample email: Subject: Please fine WSU over grizzly deaths
Dear Dr. Gibbens,
Recent news reports that WSU has been negligent in its treatment of grizzly bears used for research — to the point 0f killing some of them — signifies a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the USDA.
While many organizations along the west coast rescue and rehabilitate bears orphaned in forest fires and otherwise in distress, WSU has apparently killed four grizzly cubs in the past four years to avoid overpopulation in the labs. What a waste of resources.
Worse still are the unnecessary and unplanned deaths of Mica, who died because of the contraceptive she’d been given, and two cubs who were euthanized in 2010 because they’d failed to go into hibernation as researchers erroneously expected.
These mistakes are unconscionable. I hope you will impose the maximum fine to let WSU know this treatment and these deaths will not be tolerated and must stop.