The Animal Welfare Act Regulations (§2.31, d, 1) state that studies “...that are conducted on free-living wild animals in their natural habitat and do not involve an invasive procedure, any harm to the animal, or any material alteration of the behavior of an animal under study” do not require an IACUC approved protocol. Therefore, a UM IACUC approved protocol is not required if the study involves unobtrusive observation of free-living wild animals in their natural habitat. All other studies involving the use and care of live vertebrate animals require an IACUC approved protocol.
Could your study:
1. Affect the behavior of an animal under study?
2. Involve an invasive procedure?
3. Cause any harm to an animal?
Examples of behavior effects or invasive procedures include: supplemental feeding; nest checks; playback of recorded vocalizations that might result in territory desertion or infanticide in some cases/species, etc.
Passive observation can easily transition into disruption; the Principal Investigator (PI) must recognize when this point is reached, stop work, and apply for IACUC approval.
If you answered "no" to all 3 questions above and your study will ONLY involve observation of free-living wild animals in their natural habitat, an IACUC-approved protocol is not required. Please contact IACUC staff if you are unsure that your study is observation-only, or if anything in your observation-only study changes that would result in contact or behavioral changes of the animal under study.
UM Investigators must still comply with the requirements of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, provisions of the USDA Animal Welfare Act and Regulations, and UM Policies.