Recent Bat Death Require Action, Not Financial Penalty

THE SPECTRUM | LARISA KHARNARNIA The research buildings on campus, which house many department’s research activity.

North Dakota State is facing a fine of potentially $220,000 for the death of 22 bats here between January and May. Although this does demand immediate response and change, I cannot agree with a financial penalty.

Animal rights group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to complain about the death of bats on campus, and they are seeking the maximum penalty of $10,000 for each of the 22 bats.

People can tell something is wrong. The expectation for safe living environments for animals is a basic need. Sadie Rudolph, head of media relations at NDSU, stated that researchers “took immediate and appropriate corrective action … (and) steps have been taken to ensure the proper care of such animals. NDSU remains committed to providing for the health and well-being of animals.”

The bats did die, however, and NDSU is responsible for that. Something was wrong, and it is obvious. Sadly though, we have been tricked into thinking that a financial penalty is the best course of action. A penalty could take away vital funding for our university.

According to Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, “The failure of NDSU staff to report these deaths to veterinary staff directly, contributed to the deaths of many of the bats because no diagnostic work was performed on the first bats who died, who could have prevented subsequent deaths.”

Budkie makes a good point. There should have been action taken in January, and that action could have saved the lives of the ill-fated bats. However, I cannot agree with SAEN’s complaint for a financial penalty of close to a quarter of a million dollars.

The research that is happening here at NDSU is some of the best in the nation and to seek to take away more money from us with an ever-decreasing budget because of this incident is unneeded. However, a clear and concise plan on how we are going to change our practices is needed.

I consider myself a vegan; I share a love for animals as well, but I cannot let the world be painted in black and white. Sometimes entities do wrong while also doing so many things right.

Much too often we paint people with a broad brush. We identify one action as the actions of the whole. We then seek to discredit that entity and whatever it has done. We cannot allow that practice to extend to a university system that has done so much for the country and for our state. We also cannot allow instances like this to go unchecked.

Animals share a lot of the same emotions that we feel. Bats display a large amount of intelligence, especially socially.

It is our responsibility to act swiftly to these complaints because ultimately they are warranted.

However, seeking to fine education entities only for a news article headline trophy is unwarranted. Research universities must change with the times, but this is not the way to correct a problem. It is only the simplest, easiest option. I, for one, believe a different course of action can and should be offered.

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