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August 01, 2020

In Short

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USDA settles lawsuit over killing nuisance wildlife in Washington state

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services will complete an assessment of the environmental impacts of the agency’s killing of nuisance wild mammals in Washington state to settle a federal lawsuit.

The settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity, filed May 29, requires Wildlife Services to finish its assessment by April 2021. In the meantime, the agency promised to curb its lethal control practices using lead ammunition, neck snares, and poisons.

Wildlife Services euthanized just over 116,000 birds, fish, and mammals in fiscal year 2018 in Washington state, according to the agency’s latest annual report. The center’s lawsuit challenged only the killing of mammals, which made up roughly 18% of the animals euthanized by the agency nationwide.

Wildlife Services reported it was protecting property 49% of the time when it euthanized animals in Washington. Another 38% was to protect agriculture. The agency also said animals were killed for safety reasons and to prevent damage to natural resources.

The center sued Wildlife Services in federal court to compel the agency to either confirm or reverse its determination that the killing of mammals does not significantly harm the environment.

Have no fear, avian certification is here!

ParrotThe Fear Free organization is now offering a certification program for veterinary professionals who work with our feathered companions.

The avian certification program encompasses several one-hour modules. Video clips and slides teach participants about topics such as recognizing stress in birds, identifying fear-inducing stimuli for birds, and designing examination rooms for avian patients.

Dr. Alicia McLaughlin, co–medical director of the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine near Seattle, oversees the certification program, which has been approved by the Registry of Approved Continuing Education.

“Some animals, like pigs, are easy to work with because they’re so food-motivated,” she said. “Birds are more challenging because they are often already so far over the threshold it’s hard to reach them. Being sensitive to body language and taking things slow can help.”

The Fear Free organization, founded by Dr. Marty Becker and supported by hundreds of experts in behavior, medicine, and handling, has taught thousands of veterinary professionals how to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress associated with the veterinary environment and physical care.

Grant brings cancer researcher to Texas Tech faculty

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded a $1.4 million grant to the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine. The funds will bring to the veterinary school’s faculty Dr. Klementina Fon Tacer, a postdoctoral researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 2016.

The grant will allow Dr. Fon Tacer to investigate novel mechanisms that protect mammalian germ cells against stress and how those mechanisms are co-opted in cancer, with the ultimate goal of advancing cancer treatment and fertility preservation of childhood cancer survivors. The hope is Dr. Fon Tacer’s research will establish a strong foundation for a comparative oncology research center at Texas Tech’s newly created veterinary school on the TTU Health Sciences Center campus in the Panhandle city of Amarillo.

The Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members Award, one of seven awarded by CPRIT in May and part of 13 academic research recruitment and product development awards totaling $56 million, is the first CPRIT grant awarded to the veterinary school, which is scheduled to open its doors to students for the first time in fall 2021, pending approval from the AVMA Council on Education.

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