Army Ends Brain-Damage Test on Ferrets at Wayne State After PETA Outcry

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Victory! Following a public outcry led by PETA, a gruesome U.S. Army–funded brain-damage experiment on ferrets at Michigan’s Wayne State University has ended more than six months ahead of schedule. Terrified ferrets will no longer be purposely brain-damaged, killed, and dissected in these experiments, which ridiculously purported to use a directed energy weapon to wound the animals in an attempt to model Havana Syndrome in humans.

white ferret on blue fabric

But our work isn’t done yet: In a letter sent today to both the secretary of defense and the secretary of the Army, PETA is calling for the reversal of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s (USAMRDC) controversial Policy 84, which, ignoring precedent, explicitly allows using weapons to injure dogs, cats, marine animals, and monkeys. We’re urging the Army to stop subjecting animals to crude and pointless weapon-wounding tests and to switch to animal-free methods that are actually relevant to human health.

Ferreting Out the Facts: What Went Down at Wayne State University?

The experiment reportedly involved bombarding 48 ferrets with radio waves in order to induce brain injuries, and it was originally scheduled to conclude on September 29, costing taxpayers $750,000.

But public records show that the Army canceled its grant to Wayne State and ended the experiments on March 10, just one day after the release of a Politico exposé highlighting PETA’s opposition. The records note that “Wayne State has elected to rescind this award and the [U.S. government] has agreed that a collaborative closeout is in the best interest of both parties.” Wayne State apparently refunded more than $512,000 in August due to the grant’s cancellation.

A Long and Bloody History: Weapon-Wounding Tests on Animals

In 1983, PETA exposed and successfully campaigned to shut down a U.S. Department of Defense “wound lab” in which dogs, goats, and other animals were shot with high-powered weapons in order to inflict injuries, resulting in the first-ever permanent ban on shooting dogs and cats in wound labs.

In 2005, the Army issued Regulation 40-33, which prohibited the use of dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, and marine mammals in “[r]esearch conducted for development of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.”

Yet in 2020, the Army issued a memorandum that apparently reversed its position by permitting the use of these animals “to inflict wounds upon using a weapon” through USAMRDC Policy 84. When we tried to obtain public records regarding what this testing involved, USAMRDC conveniently claimed that the records were “classified … in the interest of national defense and foreign policy.”

We need your help to call for a cease-fire and to pressure top military brass to once again—and permanently—ban this abhorrent practice and to end weapon-wounding tests on all animals.

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