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Revised draft A Guide to the Use of Australian Native Mammals in Biomedical Sciences submission

ID: 
15
B. Please provide contact details

Personal information provided, e.g. contact details, will only be used for the purposes of developing resources relevant to this consultation document and will not be disclosed outside of members of NHMRC staff and NHMRC Committees. Such Information will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose, without prior written consent.

Organisation Name: 
University of South Australia
E. Specific comments
Specific comments: 
Purpose of the Guide

General comments:

This guide is potentially an excellent resource. The publication will need to be updated regularly and review dates should be set and adhered to.

Purpose: There is no mention of secondary or tertiary level teaching utilising native mammals.   Examples are field trips with students and keeping animals in classrooms and tertiary education institutions. If this is not intended to include teaching is there another publication planned or available to cover this significant area?

How is this Guide proposed to mesh with the Code? The existing Code has a section on wildlife that espouses many of the general principles in the Guide. Unfortunately there are also contradictions or conflicting information. We understand that the new Code is yet to be finalised and urge the respective authors of the Code and this Guide to ensure that the information and guidelines are aligned.

Our wildlife researchers are especially concerned that under Sources in GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS the text appears to encourage researchers to capture animals from the wild rather than utilising the existing captive bred colonies or considering the use of non-native, possibly endangered, species. The 2004 Code 5.1.3 states that: Animals should not be taken from natural habitats unless animals bred in captivity are unavailable or unsuitable for the scientific purpose yet the Guide states “native mammals can be sourced from the wild or alternatively….

Dasyuridae

Specific comments:

[Institution name removed by ONHMRC] holds a captive bred colony of fat-tailed dunnarts Sminthopsis crassicaudata and has other researchers who do fieldwork research on native mammals. The fat-tailed dunnart is not on the list of Dasyurids in the text. [Institution name removed by ONHMRC] is willing to share breeding pairs with other researchers and has in the past.

Captive Husbandry- we keep our dunnarts in conventional rodent caging with environmental enrichment such as a hamster wheel, toilet rolls and small cardboard boxes. These can be autoclaved and are more appropriate for use in biomedical research establishments.

This unsuitability of housing and transport containers occurs in other areas of the text.

Anaesthesia- an induction box is very useful and much less stressful for small mammals such as dunnarts. This should be included.

A good reference on breeding dunnarts is:

Lambert, Cathy, Gaikhorst, Glen, and Matson, Phillip (2011). Captive breeding of the sandhill dunnart, Sminthopsis psammophila (Marsupialia : Dasyuridae): reproduction, husbandry and growth and development. Australian Mammalogy 33, 21–27.

There is no mention of torpor and rewarming in the sections on affected mammals eg dunnarts.

 

Appendix 5 – Health issues, disease control and zoonoses

Health issues Disease control and Zoonoses would be better divided into separate sections

 

Zoonoses and their prevention

 

Disease Control- some principles around this as well as the list

 

There is inconsistency in some of the descriptions of disease and a better more logical means of description would be to split this into headings-

 

Name of condition ( common and scientific)

Taxon affected

Cause

Symptoms

Treatment

 

The Appendices are very useful; One suggestion is to have the list of people with expertise include what they are expert on otherwise they will be inundated with requests, especially those at the top of the list.

General considerations

Our wildlife researchers are especially concerned that under Sources in GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS the text appears to encourage researchers to capture animals from the wild rather than utilising the existing captive bred colonies or considering the use of non-native, possibly endangered, species. The 2004 Code 5.1.3 states that: Animals should not be taken from natural habitats unless animals bred in captivity are unavailable or unsuitable for the scientific purpose yet the Guide states “native mammals can be sourced from the wild or alternatively….

 

General considerations section needs editing and adding headings in subsections to make it easier to read and to find information and to be checked with and referenced to the Code. The numbered dot points as employed in the Code make for ease of reading and referencing.

Example: move paragraph starting - Alternatively… into sources as these paragraphs duplicate or contradict the successive statements.

General considerations could be expanded to include principles of trapping as sometimes traps are set to monitor the distribution of a number of species. The effects of stress and handling also need to be better spelled out here as they are in the Code.

We suggest that AECs considering applications for biomedical research using native mammals be constituted to include a person with appropriate knowledge in this area.

 

Please note: the currently accepted plural of taxon is taxa not taxons. (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

Page reviewed: 24 April, 2014