The report, first shared by The Daily Targum, stated that the finding was uncovered in a report seeking reimbursement for animals “lost” during the pandemic.
“Loss of research animals required for student/postdoc training,” the report reads. “RBHS was forced to eliminate 4,600 cages of mice, each containing an average of five mice. Assuming an average cost of $50/mice.”
The line item included a posted loss of $1.15 million.
Rutgers spokesperson Dory Devlin responded to the report in an email.
“During the ramp-down of research last year, principal investigators (PI) were asked to scale down or stop research not deemed critical,” Devlin said. “Mitigating measures, including halting breeding and not starting new studies, as stated before, significantly reduced any need for euthanization. Unfortunately, ending studies early can lead to euthanization.
“When these decisions are made by a PI … Rutgers and its researchers fully comply with all requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.”
The email also revealed that the cost of the lost mice would be reimbursed by the state of New Jersey.
While the Rutgers situation has angered animal rights groups, among others, the incident isn’t the only one regarding euthanized research animals during the pandemic.
PETA shared a Twitter post about mice being flagged for euthanasia at Columbia University Medical Center in New York because of a lack of staffing during the pandemic in March 2020.
The PETA report called on “every research university receiving public funds” to suspend animal experiments, assess the effectiveness of current plans, and transition to non-animal research methods.
“The novel coronavirus pandemic should be a moral and scientific reckoning for universities that have harmed and killed animals in studies that are expendable. The mass graves of animals should tell us that cures will only come with human-relevant, non-animal research methods,” PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell wrote in the organization’s report.
The Washington Examiner also reported that the University of California–San Diego, Duke University, and the University of Colorado–Boulder also were criticized by animal rights activists over the euthanizing of research animals during the early months of the pandemic in 2020.