Saturday, June 11, 2011

Eric Sandgren: "The mice don't harm each other."

In the typically formulaic response to unwanted attention being drawn to likely problems with animal care at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, go-to propagandist Eric Sandgren dismissed concerns over the fights forced upon mice in more than a decade-long series of staged fights between male mice. He was apparently interviewed by a couple of reporters:
"Aggression research like this isn't really the point of the law," he said. The mice don't harm each other, but display aggressive behavior and back away, Sandgren added. "They (researchers) don't see animals that are limping." (


[Eric Sandgren] says the "fights" generally consist of one mouse charging at another, who retreats, and that no encounters led to serious injuries. "It's a behavioral fight." (Isthmus)


[Eric Sandgren] said fights generally involve mice displaying aggressive behavior but then backing away.

"(The researchers) don't see animals that have wounds," he said. "They don't see animals that are limping."(Wisconsin State Journal)
This calculated spin contradicts reports from university insiders familiar with the care of mice and research on aggression in captive mice.

Because so very many mice are used in research, caring for them (prior to experimenting on them) has been the subject of some research. Aggression in male mice is apparently a well-recognized problem in the industry. If, as Sandgren claims, fights don't lead to wounding, then, in fact, there would be no need to study the problem. But, bite wounds can be serious and can lead to death. The additional stress of being unable to escape from an aggressor has raised questions about the reliability of data generated from experiments using them.
In a laboratory environment, aggressive interactions between male mice may exceed normal levels leading to negative effects both on the well-being of the animals and on the validity of experimental results. ....

Laboratory mice that live in a barren confined space such as a laboratory cage may be unable to respond to each other in a proper social way. Subordinate mice are unable to flee from the dominant’s sight, or migrate out of the territory. When the proper behavioural response is frustrated, the animal’s attempt to cope can be deemed to fail, causing a state of suffering in the subordinate mouse. Furthermore, the dominant male may respond with more extreme aggression than naturally, in an attempt to achieve the desired effect (i.e. disappearance of the subordinate). Male management: Coping with aggression problems in male laboratory mice. Van Loo PL, Van Zutphen LF, Baumans V. Lab Anim. 2003
The Jackson Laboratory, one of the more hideously cruel businesses on the planet and a producer of vast numbers of mice for vivisectors, is an acknowledged expert on mouse husbandry. They say:
Aggression and fighting

* Males may be combined at weaning age (3-4 weeks), but should not be combined at older ages. They may fight, cause wounds and/or death of male cage mates.
* Males shipped in separate compartments of the same shipping box or in individual boxes should not be combined upon entry into your facility as they may fight. Wounded mice may not be useable for your research.
* Separate group-housed males which are fighting; at the very least remove the dominant male (the mouse lacking wounds). [my emphasis]
Understandably, the UW-Madison is willing to go to extreme lengths to maintain the obscene torrential flow of cash from taxpayers into their own bank accounts, so fabricating stories for the public about how well the gazillions of animals they use are cared for before they are tortured and killed makes sense. It's despicable and evil, but understandable and even predictable if you believe that money is a corrupting influence. Huge sums of money are even more so. It makes sense that Sandgren would poo-poo any concern about instigating fights between mice.

But Sandgren himself has a giant mouse colony for his personal use. He is a mouse vivisector. So when he claims that "the mice don't harm each other" it is particularly grating to an informed ear. How couldn't he know that fights between male mice do cause them harm? Insiders report that this is apparently a fairly common problem at the university.


Jeremy Beckham said...

I also want to know what Eric means when he says "It's [only] a behavioral fight." What is a "behavioral" fight? What fights aren't "behavioral"?

Anonymous said...

Most Nazis keep detailed records. These are staged fights, in clear violation of state law, without scientific merit, therefore not 'bona fide.'