Animal euthanasia at Savannah River Ecology Lab?

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, August 2, 2007

AIKEN CTY, SC-- Along with expansion at the Savannah River Site, there is also the possibility of consolidation. This week, Congress heard testimony about the Savannah River Ecology Lab.

SREL Interim Co-Director Carl Strojan is just back from his trip to Washington. He describes that trip as frustrating and interesting. Also interesting is the confusion about the future of the animals at the lab.

There are - according to Professor Whit Gibbons - more than a thousand animals at the lab. When some employees were laid off earlier this year, rumors spread that some of those animals were being euthanized.

A rumor Gibbons refutes: "That's really the message I think, is no. We do not have to euthanize any of these animals."

Graduate student Aaliyah Green echoes that statement. "I feel confident that we won't have to euthanize anything. That's the last thing we want to do."

Interim Co-Director Carl Strojan backs those comments.

"We've been directed by the university not to euthanize and I don't think that'll happen."

Instead, if the lab does close, Gibbons says they will redistribute the animals to other education programs or release them into the areas were they were captured.

The loss of the lab itself is also cause for concern.

"I don't think anyone at the ecology lab could feel anymore strongly or be anymore heartbroken about the demise of SREL," says research manager Judith Greene.

As for talk of moving the lab to the University of Georgia campus, students urge caution.

"Moving everything to campus would be just difficult, if not impossible for most people here," says Greene.

"If the lab was to be closed, it would become incredibly difficult to finish the last year of the research," says graduate student Brian Todd.

That research project is a study between the lab, the University of Missouri and the University of Maine. Congress is currently looking at ways to fund the lab and keep it open.

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