For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.


IACUC Guidance

The following guidance is intended to serve as a general tool; to anticipate and address broad inquiries regarding the NPS IACUC and how to use it. For more detailed inquiries or concerns, please contact the NPS IACUC directly at the address below, or consult the NPS IACUC Standard Operating Procedure.

NPS IACUC
1201 Oakridge Drive, Suite 200
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525

Submitters & Principal Investigators

If you are involved in a project that takes place (even partially) on NPS territory, involves the use of vertebrate animals, and has as its aim the collection of scientific information, teaching, and/or exhibition of said vertebrate animals, then your project requires NPS IACUC review for compliance. Should there be any doubt as to whether or not your project needs review, please contact the NPS IACUC directly.

Research and/or Teaching projects for review must be submitted to the NPS IACUC in the form of a completed NPS IACUC General Submission (GS) form. Electronic submission is strongly encouraged, although submissions received by regular mail shall also be considered. Once received, you will be notified of your project's receipt. It will then undergo a compliance review process, which the NPS IACUC will make every endeavor to complete in thirty days or less. You may not begin your project until the NPS IACUC has issued you an official approval; however, once approved, you may immediately begin your project.

If your project intends to take place on NPS territory (even partially), and has already been reviewed and approved by an IACUC other than the NPS IACUC, you must submit a copy of the reviewing IACUC's official approval notification and a complete copy of your project's study plan; i.e. exactly, and in great detail; your project design and any and all animal use procedures. The NPS IACUC acknowledges the decisions of other IACUCs; however, the NPS IACUC is recognized by the USDA APHIS AC as the SOLE guarantor of AWAR compliance in the NPS. The NPS IACUC therefore reserves the right to amend, alter, or reject/overturn as it deems necessary, any animal use project approved by any IACUC other than the NPS IACUC. In such cases, you may not begin your project until the NPS IACUC has received and assessed your project study plan and the reviewing IACUC's approval.

Should your project be rejected (not approved) by the NPS IACUC, you may appeal this decision. However, submitters and principal investigators have only one appeal, and any decision resulting thereafter is final. Appeals must be made to the NPS IACUC with the aim of gaining reconsideration of its previous decision.

Exhibitors of Vertebrate Animals on NPS Territory

Projects involving the exhibition of vertebrate animals on NPS territory require NPS IACUC review. Projects for review must be submitted to the NPS IACUC in the form of a completed NPS IACUC Exhibition (E) form. Electronic submission is strongly encouraged, although submissions received by regular mail shall also be considered. Once received, you will be notified of your project's receipt. It will then undergo a compliance review process, which the NPS IACUC will make every endeavor to complete in thirty days or less. You may not begin your project until the NPS IACUC has issued you an official approval; however, once approved, you may immediately begin your project.

Exhibitors must have current, valid USDA APHIS AC Exhibitor's licensure in order to exhibit mammals. For the exhibition of all other vertebrates, exhibitors must have a current, valid exhibitor's license for the state in which they plan to exhibit their animals. Exhibitors must also have an exemplary history under any and all of the above licenses and permits.

Field Studies

As defined by the Animal Welfare Act Regulations§1.1 and §2.31, d, 1: A Field Study is defined as follows, "A study conducted on free-living wild animals in their natural habitat". However, this term excludes any study that involves an invasive procedure, harms, or materially alters the behavior of an animal under study. Studies identified by the NPS IACUC as Field Studies are exempt from IACUC review; however, the NPS IACUC reserves the right to monitor all projects it deems Field Studies in order to ensure the continuance of a project's Field Study status, or to appropriately re-evaluate said status as needed. The NPS IACUC reserves final right in determining whether or not a project is a Field Study.

Actions Outside of AWA & AWAR Jurisdiction

There are a great many actions involving vertebrate animals in NPS units that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the AWA & AWAR, and by extension the NPS IACUC and its domains of research, teaching, and exhibition. Such actions are non-scientific in nature, often concern natural resource maintenance activities, the promotion of outdoor sports, emergency response actions, and/or a combination of any of the above. Examples include, but are not limited to: official hunting activities as identified and approved by NPS enabling legislation, or federal law overseen by the NPS; approved culling or removal activities involving "nuisance" animals, "exotic species", and/or "invasive species" identified and approved through NPS planning and compliance; and actions that require human intervention in order to ensure human and/or animal safety and well-being.

Actions falling outside the jurisdiction of the NPS IACUC (as those listed above) do not require compliance review; however, it is strongly encouraged that the NPS IACUC be sought as a consultant in such matters whenever feasible. Should there be any doubt as to the AWA & AWAR jurisdiction of an animal use action, contact the NPS IACUC directly.

It is the position of the NPS IACUC that any and all animal projects in the NPS that lie outside the jurisdiction or intent of the AWA & AWAR should be carried out in voluntary compliance with any and all appropriate Professional Society Guidelines whenever feasible. A list of Professional Societies is available on this website.

NPS IACUC Logistics

The NPS IACUC currently meets semi-monthly, on the first and third Mondays of each month. Submitters should consider this schedule when preparing to submit projects for review. NPS IACUC membership consists of three core members (the Chair, the Attending Veterinarian, and the Unaffiliated Member-At Large), and a regional membership (one representative from each region and an alternate). Projects submitted may undergo review by either the full Committee (FCR), or by a Designated Member Review (DMR). Projects receiving full FCR will be assessed have alterations required, and approved or rejected by majority vote of a quorum of the Committee. Projects receiving DMR will be assessed by a Chair-appointed minority of the Committee (as few as one). Said minority will have full authority to assess, require alterations in, and approve or reject the project under review.

Once projects are received for review, they are filed and immediately disseminated to each of the Committee members. A call is then put forth by the Chair inquiring if any member or members would like to conduct a DMR. If so, then review of the project is given over to the DMR member or members. If not, then the full Committee immediately begins to review and assess the project. Thus, it is usually the custom that a project has received a thorough review (including any requested alterations) by the time the Committee convenes to vote upon the project. Contact between the submitting PI, Teacher, or Exhibitor, and the Committee during the review process is usually conducted via the Chair for FCR, and via the DMR member or members in the case of DMR.

Principal Investigators whose projects have been reviewed, and either approved or rejected, will receive notification within twenty-four hours of the Committee's decision. Approved projects may begin immediately. Notification of rejected projects will be accompanied by a full explanation of the Committee's decision. Rejected projects may be re-submitted through the NPS IACUC appeal process.

NPS IACUC and NPS Unit Permitting

National Park Service units issue permits — at their discretion — to officially support/give permission for certain activities within their respective boundaries. Such permits are often granted based upon a review of the proposed activities, weighed against the policies and regulations of the issuing NPS unit; i.e. whether or not the proposed activity is in compliance with the mission and policies of the unit. Such permits are issued at the discretion of the individual NPS unit, and each NPS unit sets a unique, relevant set of permitting standards. Among the standards required by permit-issuing NPS units concerning research is the fulfillment of IACUC review. However, the NPS IACUC is restricted to project review regarding AWAR compliance only. What this means is that while a project may receive NPS IACUC review and approval, such approval does not guarantee the issuance of a research permit by any NPS unit. NPS IACUC approval means a project is in compliance with the AWAR, and nothing more. Specifically, AWAR compliance does not necessarily equate to NPS compliance. An NPS IACUC-approved animal use project may still run counter to the natural resource policies of a given NPS unit. Therefore, in a like situation, a permit may be withheld despite NPS IACUC approval. And this is perfectly acceptable. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the submitter; e.g. the PI, teacher, or exhibitor to keep the proposed NPS host unit apprised and up-to-date on the NPS IACUC review process regarding their project.


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Last Updated: May 21, 2012