USDA files complaint against Alaska university for muskoxen deaths

Pregnant muskox at the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The farm was depending on the 2011 spring crop of calves to repopulate the herd. Photo taken April 27, 2011. (Photo by Heather Bryant)

Pregnant muskox at the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The farm was depending on the 2011 spring crop of calves to repopulate the herd. Photo taken April 27, 2011. (Photo by Heather Bryant)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has accused the University of Alaska Fairbanks of possible Animal Welfare Act violations in the starvation deaths of 12 muskoxen at its large-animal research station.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said Wednesday an administrative judge will decide whether the university will face fines an animal rights group hopes total $10,000 for each animal.

University spokeswoman Marmian Grimes says the school is working on a response to the complaint.

The USDA says the university failed to provide adequate veterinary care, identify that the musk oxen were losing weight or enlist veterinary treatment. The animals died or were euthanized between Aug. 29, 2010, and Feb. 16, 2011.

The complaint filed in late March follows a request by the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now to investigate the school. The group announced the complaint Wednesday.

This story was first covered in 2011 by The Sun Star. Here are some links to that coverage:

Muskox Mystery: Seven Muskoxen Dead
Administration responds to muskoxen deaths
Havoc in the herd – Extended Coverage
Animal activists assail UAF over the death of a dozen muskox

And here’s a timeline of the events leading up to the investigations. The most recent events are at the top.