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Endangered Dolphins Experimentation Unacceptable

Animal experimentation on endangered dolphins unacceptable

SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation) joins calls to abandon controversial dolphin research.

"The Department of Conservation¹s proposed research experiment to satellite tag three endangered Hectors dolphins is unacceptable," says SAFE Campaigns Director Hans Kriek.

SAFE is calling for an immediate review on Doc¹s handling of the matter."We have grave concerns that Doc did not follow its own operating procedures with regards to the consultation and peer review process required for all proposals relating to invasive research on marine mammals. The manner in which Doc obtained ethics committee approval is also under question as the approved proposal seems quite different from the experiment Doc actually plans to carry out."

"Doc¹s proposal to catch three Hectors dolphins for experimental purposes has been widely condemned by marine mammal scientists, conservation groups and even Doc¹s own scientific advisors. Why then does Doc seem so hell bent to continue with this apparently risky and unnecessary experiment?"

"SAFE is, like all involved, totally in favour of protecting New Zealand¹s endangered species. Our organisation however, is extremely concerned about Doc¹s willingness to trial an invasive and potentially harmful procedure like satellite tagging when scientists tell us that other research methods are more effective and won¹t cause harm or distress to the dolphins."

"Satellite tagging requires the stressful catching of dolphins, drilling three to four holes through their dorsal fins and bolting the satellite tag in place. It is possible these highly endangered animals will sustain injuries or even die, any pregnant dolphins captured may abort their foetuses.

"Doc¹s efforts to avoid public debate on this issue and the appearance of overseas commercial interests have created an environment of distrust and suspicion, with local scientists wondering if Doc has more to protect than just the dolphins. This situation does nothing to further the cause of our endangered dolphins, we need all our best minds working together on this critical issue."

SAFE is calling on Doc to halt all invasive research on dolphins and work with Forest and Bird, WWF, independent marine scientists and other stakeholders to ensure only the best and most humane research methods are applied. "For Doc to continue with this highly controversial experiment in the face of huge expert opposition is nothing short of irresponsible. It would set the cause of dolphin conservation back many years."

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