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A settlement has been made between the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture after USDA accused UAF in mid-April of possible Animal Welfare Act violations and a failure to provide adequate veterinary care in the starvation deaths of 12 musk oxen at the large-animal research station. The animals either died or were euthanized in 2010 and 2011.
The complaint by the USDA followed requests from the Stop Animal Exploitation Now group to investigate the school. The group’s executive director, Michael Budkie said at that time that “We hope that the University of Alaska Fairbanks receives the maximum allowable penalty under the law for starving a dozen musk oxen.”
Veterinarian John Blake disagreed with the statement by Budkie, saying that the animals did not starve to death and had plenty of hay to eat, but instead died from a imbalance of minerals.
The cause of the musk oxen’s death is suspected to have been because of a cobalt, copper, and selenium deficiency that are crucial to the animal’s metabolism. Necropsies were performed on the dead animals and no signs of disease were present. The tissue samples were sent to the Washington State University’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for analysis.
After changes were made at the station, the USDA gave them a clean bill of health in 2012.
The settlement made was an agreement for UAF to pay $127,100. According to the agreement, UAF does not admit to any specific violations.