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USDA Ammends Marine Mammal Regulation

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 2001--The U.S. Department of Agriculture is amending the Animal Welfare Act regulations for marine mammals in captivity.

"USDA and other members of an advisory committee developed the revised regulations based on advances made in care and handling of marine mammals over the last 14 years," said W. Ron DeHaven, deputy administrator for animal care with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The regulations reflect new standards in marine mammal care based on current general, industry, and scientific knowledge. The changes touch on many aspects of captive marine mammal care including handling, veterinary care, and facility operations.

To develop the revised regulations, APHIS called together various marine mammal experts, industry specialists, and animal welfare organizations in order to create the negotiated rulemaking advisory committee on marine mammals.

The rulemaking process involved several committee sessions in 1995 and 1996. A proposed rule (Docket No. 93-076-11) was published in the Feb. 23, 1999, Federal Register. Comments were accepted until May 26, 1999. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS rules, are available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.

The final rule on the regulations is scheduled for publication in the Jan. 3 Federal Register and becomes effective on Feb. 2.

For more information on the final rule (Docket No. 93-076-15), contact:
Barbara Kohn,
staff veterinarian, animal care, APHIS
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, Md. 20737-1234
(301) 734-7833