Animal Care and Use Policies

How to Report Animal Welfare Concerns 
General Introduction
Purpose, Membership, and Activities of the UMCES IACUC
UMCES Occupational Health and Safety Program: Animal Use Concerns
Procedures for Submission and Review Process of Protocol Applications
UMCES Animal Use-Related Documents and Forms
Other Sites of Information

Section 1. General Introduction

UMCES, as mandated by the Federal Animal Welfare Act, has an approved Assurance through the Public Health Service (PHS) that regulates how research/ teaching activities involving vertebrates are carried out at UMCES facilities or as part of field programs.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has an institutional program to insure appropriate humane care and use of vertebrate animals at UMCES laboratory facilities or field programs and under any activities carried out as part of UMCES research grants and contracts. This Animal Care and Use Program is based upon and consistent with federal and state animal welfare laws. UMCES has on file with the Public Health Service (PHS) a written Assurance that commits UMCES to following the standards and regulations established by Public Health Service (PHS) Policies and requirements of the Federal Animal Welfare Act. This web page provides information and guidance to UMCES faculty, staff, and students on humane and safe practices that need to be used in handling vertebrates and procedures that must be followed before receiving approval for use in research or instructional work that involves vertebrates.

UMCES' institutional policy does not permit laboratory research on any vertebrates other than fish, amphibians, and reptiles; field studies of birds and mammals are allowed where there is no significant effect on the animals being studied. This limitation forms the basis for developing and tailoring the broader specifics of the UMCES institutional guidelines and policies for the use of animals in research and educational activities. Much of the available literature deals with concerns specific to the humane care and use of mammals and primates. In our protocol guidelines, policies, and procedures we have focused on how best to apply general principles to the more specific problems associated with fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

In the following pages we urge that UMCES faculty, staff, and students, as part of an environmentally conscious community, consider sensible, prudent, and human treatment of all life.

Anyone at UMCES or from the public who would like to report concerns of animal care and use at UMCES should feel free to contact the Chair or any member of UMCES Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) with their confidential concerns. A list of the Committee members is on this website under section 2.b

Section 2. Purpose, Membership, and Activities of the UMCES IACUC

2.a Purpose of the IACUC

UMCES, in compliance with federal law, has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to insure that all activities are in compliance with the Federal Animal Welfare Act, other applicable federal and state law, and PHS and institutional policy. The IACUC is a federally mandated committee that must oversee all research and teaching at those institutions that receive federal funds for research and/or teaching. Many granting agencies other than federal also require some process and oversight by which proposed research using animals is reviewed, approved, and overseen. The IACUC develops and recommends to UMCES policies, standards, guidelines, and procedures to insure compliance with the various federal and state animal welfare and humane use regulations and policies. All proposed use of vertebrate animals in research and/or teaching needs first to be reviewed and approved by the IACUC. Policy and procedures governing the care and use of vertebrate animals in research at UMCES is contained in the UMCES Assurance

2.b IACUC Members:

IACUC members are appointed by and report to the President of UMCES. Members of the IACUC include: animal researchers representing each Laboratory of UMCES, a veterinarian with experience in animal care in research situations, an UMCES employee not directly involved in using animals in institutional programs, and a citizen not associated with UMCES who can represent concerns of the community. In addition, there are at each of the three Laboratory sites of UMCES on call local veterinarians who can provide advice and assistance when needed. The IACUC bylaws provide organizational guidelines for carrying out its activities.

IACUC Members - 2017

Christopher Rowe, Chairperson Ph.D. Associate Professor, UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Scientist
Brent Whitaker D.V.M Vice President of Biological Programs, National Aquarium, Baltimore Veterinarian
Elizabeth North Ph.D. Associate Professor, UMCES Horn Point Laboratory Scientist
John L. Hoogland Ph.D. Professor, UMCES Appalachian Laboratory Evolutionary Biology of Mammals
Angela Richmond Non-scientist Director, ORAA, UMCES Non-scientist
Laura Rink B. S. Aquarist Non-affiliated member

2.c IACUC Activities:

The committee serves in the following activities:

Reviews and approves all animal research and education protocols through a process of submission and review of an application submitted on a Protocol Form for Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research and Education that is required for any laboratory and/or field project involving the use of vertebrates. The IACUC also is required to review and approve any significant changes to an existing approved protocol that affect the species or number of animals being used or changes in animal treatment procedures. Reports are submitted to the Institutional Officer (UMCES President).

Table 10.1 from The IACUC Handbook (2001). Edited by Jerald Silverman, Mark A. Suckow, and Sreekant Murthy.

Type of Change Major (Significant) Minor
Examples Change in purpose or specific aim of study.
Change in principal investigator.
Change of species.
Addition of USDA-regulated species.
Large increase in animal numbers.
Addition of survival surgery.
Addition of painful procedure.
Unanticipated marked increase in clinical signs or proportion of animal deaths.
Substitution of a qualified student or technician.
Addition of a faculty collaborator.
Change in sex of animal to be used.
Small increase in animal numbers.
Need to repeat an experiment.
Addition of minor surgery.
Addition of sample collection times.
Additional noninvasive sampling.
Suggested mechanism: Rewrite protocol and have IACUC review. Submit as amendment.
  • Conducts regular (twice annual) inspections, using federal animal use guidelines, of all UMCES facilities involved with animal use.
  • Provides web-based training on animal use procedures that is required of any UMCES faculty, staff, or graduate student in residence at UMCES facilities whose research activity involves the use of vertebrate fish, amphibians, and reptiles and vertebrates in field surveys.  Completing this web-based training is a prerequisite for full approval of a proposed protocol. You only need to complete this training once while working at CBL.  Please contact the IACUC Chair for instructions and webpage information.

Section 3. UMCES Occupational Health and Safety Program: Animal Use Concerns.

An occupational health and safety program to maintain a safe and healthy workplace must be part of the overall animal use and care program. Because this arena of concern is broader than just potential problems to humans associated with using animals, the IACUC defers to the UMCES Safety Committees at the individual Laboratories. The IACUC advises each of the Laboratory Committees of protocols when they are approved so that the Safety Officer at the Laboratory in question is aware of any potential health/safety issues related to impending research/teaching activity.

UMCES personnel hiring procedures call for identifying those new employees who will be working with vertebrates and having them confirm vaccination/testing requirements (UMCES Animal Care and Use: Vaccination/Testing Verification Form).

A notice, Zoonotic Diseases of Fish Origin, should be brought to the attention of the attending physician or other health services provider by any employee working in close contact with fishes.

Employees working with amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds should also advise their attending physician or health services provider.

The IACUC does recommend general hygienic procedures when dealing with vertebrates (e.g., the use of laboratory clothing, gloves, hand washing) and recommends that personnel advise their health care personnel of any potential exposure associated with handling of fish, amphibians, and reptiles or birds/mammals in the field; to facilitate that awareness by employees and their health care providers the IACUC issues with each protocol a short description of potential exposures that should be given by the Principal Investigator to every laboratory personnel that comes in contact with vertebrates. The Principal Investigator is responsible if there is a potential health hazard to define hygienic protocols to be used in her/his laboratory facilities or in the field. These protocols will depend on the facility, research activities, hazards, and animal species.

Zoonotic Diseases of Fish Origin

Zoonoses involving transmission of disease and biotoxin producing agents from fish to humans have been documented in the literature (i.e., bacteria, biotoxins, and parasites). There are also many other infectious organisms of fish origin that have not been reported but have the potential to infect and harm man. The status of the human host immune system plays a vital role in the severity of the disease. The table below illustrates several organisms and toxins of fish origin and exposure routes that have been reported or have the potential to infect humans.This table is not all-inclusive (see M.K. Stoskopf, 1993; 14MB Adobe PDF). 

The major exposure routes include ingestion and introduction of organisms through open wounds or abrasions. More specifically, ingestion includes consumption of raw or under-cooked infected fish tissue, ingestion of fish tissue contaminated with feces from infected fish, and ingestion of water harboring infectious organisms. Dermal exposure includes introduction of infectious agents into open wounds or abrasions through handling infected fish or infected water.

Pathogen Ingestion of fish tissue (under cooked or feces cont.) ingestion of infected aquaria water dermal contact infected fish dermal contact infected Aquarium/Sea water
Streptococcus *      
Staphylococcus   *    
Clostridium +      
Erysipelothrix     +  
Mycobacterium     * +
Nocardia     * *
Vibrio +     +
Plesiomonas shigelloides + +    
Aeromonas   +   +
Pseudomonas   *   *
Escherichia +      
Salmonella +      
Klebsiella     +  
Edwardsiella + + + +
Leptospirosis ? ? ? ?
Anasakiasis +      
Eustrongyloides +      
Cestodes +      
Trematodes +      
Protozoa * *    
Calicivirus     *  
Candida     *  
Ciguatera Poisoning + heat and cold stable      
Scombroid Poisoning + cold sensitive      

Section 4. Procedures for Submission and Review Process of Protocol Applications.

Investigators submitting research proposals to their Laboratory Director must indicate whether vertebrate animals (limited to fish, amphibians, and reptiles in laboratory research) will be used in the proposed research. If so, the proposal will be processed by UMCES but granting agencies may require specific forms providing such information, at least advising the funding agency that the Principal Investigator of the Proposal is processing an application within her/his institution to insure the humane care and use of vertebrate animals associated with the proposal. Initiation of federal agency funding is contingent on having proposed research protocols approved BEFORE research funds are awarded. Agencies inquire from UMCES Grants Administration for verification of Protocol award.

The Principal Investigator is responsible for immediately submitting proposed research plans to the IACUC on the UMCES Protocol Form for Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research and Education. See Section 5. This form should be filled out, electronically signed by the applicant, principal investigator (if different), and Laboratory Director, and submitted to the IACUC office (

The following information should be considered in filling out the application. Protocol review is based upon the summary document, Principles for the Use of Animals in Research, Teaching, and Testing developed by the U.S. Interagency Research Animal Committee. According to these principles protocols need to:

  1. justify the use of animals by the value and nature of the proposed research as opposed to any suffering, pain or death that the animals will endure; (for a discussion of how to approach this question please see the paper by Bateson 1986. When to experiment on animals. New Scientist 20:30-32);
  2. provide a scientific rationale for the particular animal being used and the possibility and reasons pro and con of any alternative animal or mathematical models; 
  3. justify the number of animals being used; i.e., that field sampling techniques and procedures and laboratory/field research activities attempts to use the minimum number of animals while insuring an adequate experimental design to answer the scientific question; 
  4. describe procedures for appropriate and humane animal care and use; 
  5. identify and describe procedures, or the need to withhold, appropriate use of anesthetics and analgesics and tranquilizers that will minimize stress, suffering, and pain, and criteria and methods for euthanasia.

Protocol applications need to be SUBMITTED AT LEAST TWO MONTHS, and earlier if possible in case there are some problems with the application, before anticipated use of animals. Animal use may not begin until the research protocol is approved. Protocols are reviewed and approved /approved with suggested modifications /additional information sought before approval /withhold approval.

All approved applications are assigned a protocol number. This number should be used in all correspondence and used on experimental tanks for identification purposes.

Please note that according to federal regulations, Animal Use Protocols may only be approved for up to three years. If you continue your project beyond three years, you will be out of compliance with public Health Service policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Principal Investigators are responsible for insuring, at least two months before an approved protocol expires on a continuing grant that a new (De Novo) application is submitted for review. The IACUC reviews annually all existing protocols and should be made aware if there are any significant changes that would affect the approved care and use of vertebrate animals.

Please ensure that you and your laboratory director have signed the form prior to submission.  Electronic signatures are acceptable.

For further information on the IACUC please contact the Chair of the IACUC , Chris Rowe at:

Section 5. UMCES Animal Use-Related Documents and Forms.


  1. Field Studies

    A Unique Application to the IACUC for Studies of Wild Animals in or from Natural Setting
  2. Amphibians and Reptiles

    IACUC Issues Associated with Amphibian Research
    Reproduction and Larval Rearing of Amphibians
    Medicine and Surgery of Amphibians
    Amphibian Biology and Husbandry
    Amphibians Used in Teaching and Research
    Compendium of Drugs and Compounds Used in Amphibians 

Section 6. Other Sites of Information