Yerkes Drops Bid to Kill Endangered Species

Posted on October 18, 2006

Move Follows Storm of Opposition From Animal Protection Groups

ChimpanzeeWashington, D.C. –
Yerkes National Primate Research Center has withdrawn a controversial
application for a permit amendment filed with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS) that, if approved, would have dramatically
undermined the U.S. Endangered Species Act by allowing lethal research
on scores of protected primates, ultimately resulting in their
slaughter. Tanya Sanerib of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal–lead
counsel for a broad coalition of animal protection organizations
opposed to the permit–called the withdrawal a "vitally important
decision that spares the lives of sensitive, intelligent, and
endangered primates and protects the integrity of the Endangered
Species Act."

Yerkes applied for permission to kill 30 endangered sooty
mangabeys–tree-dwelling monkeys native to Africa–simply because the
facility claimed that it lacked sufficient space for them. Yerkes also
wanted to perform lethal experiments on up to 100 other mangabeys. Ten
groups submitted extensive comments to FWS in opposition to Yerkes’
request, asserting that granting the request would be a direct
violation of the Endangered Species Act, a law that embodies the
national consensus that animals in danger of extinction should be
protected.

"If the application had been approved," Sanerib continued, "it
would have established a dangerous precedent for further commercial
exploitation of animals who are currently protected because of their
potential for extinction. This is not only a win for these specific
animals but also for all species protected under the Endangered Species
Act."

The conservation experts who contributed to the submission in
opposition to the permit request pointed out that Yerkes’ proposed
experiments would not have offered any value in terms of the
conservation of mangabeys. Furthermore, a payment proposed in the
permit would have amounted to a "pay to take" authorization, which is
not allowed under the Endangered Species Act. "Applications to take
endangered species must show a genuine conservation benefit for that
species," Sanerib concluded. "The organizations we represent, which
maintain a strong interest in protecting imperiled wildlife globally,
advocate in situ conservation, anti-poaching, and habitat-protection
efforts as the top priorities in wildlife protection."

Groups involved in the effort to stop Yerkes include Animal
Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, American Anti-Vivisection
Society, Born Free USA, In Defense of Animals, International Primate
Protection League, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, The Animal
Protection Institute, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Media Questions and Interview Requests:

Tanya Sanerib, Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal

202-588-5206, ext. 32


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