MOSCOW — The University of Idaho has joined an elite list of land-grant institutions to earn full accreditation from an international organization that recognizes commitment to quality animal care and science.

The AAALAC International accreditation has been in the works for nearly 20 years. It was achieved through the work of the animal facility staff, U of I’s AAALAC Task Force and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and through the support of university leadership. AAALAC is a private nonprofit that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs.

There are 112 land-grant institutions (LGIs) in the United States, and 43 of those have some form of AAALAC accreditation. U of I is among just 16 LGIs to have every college within the university that uses animals in research, teaching or testing accredited.

“This full accreditation is the gold standard of animal care,” said Steven Russell, U of I’s attending veterinarian. “It recognizes a university-wide commitment to premier animal care and will open more doors for federal funding for animal research that will ultimately benefit Idaho agriculture.”

With the accreditation, U of I joins just 21 other LGIs in having their agricultural animal research program accredited.

“The University of Idaho should be extremely proud of its achievement of accreditation,” said Gaylen Edwards, president of AAALAC’s Council on Accreditation. “The university’s excellent program of laboratory animal care and use includes many notable highlights such as the cutting-edge facilities at the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station, the collaboration with the Kootenai Tribe at the aquatic animal research facility, innovations in agricultural animal care and outstanding staff and administrative support.”

The organization sent representatives to view U of I facilities statewide during the accreditation process. Other animal housing locations, including the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center and Rinker Rock Creek Ranch in central Idaho and Palouse Research, Extension and Education Center and Laboratory Animal Research Facility in Moscow, drew commendations from AAALAC.

Rinker Rock Creek Ranch’s innovative fences that permit wildlife passage, the sheep center’s new water lines and feed bunkers and the burbot fish breeding research with the Kootenai Tribe were among the program features that were praised.

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