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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) has revoked the permit that allowed a Shreesh Mysore, an experimenter from Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Baltimore, Maryland, to kill barn owls in his experiments. 

The animal rights organisation PETA complained to MD DNR about Mysore’s admission in his National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant application in which he intended to kill the owls. The complaint is based on the argument that such kills would violate a Maryland law that voids such permits when wild animals are killed. So far, Mysore’s study has been funded with $1.9 million in US taxpayer money. Mysore conducted these invasive experiments on owls from 2015 to 2018 without any permit, which led to a warning by MD DNR.

Shalin Gala, PETA Vice President, said,Now that Mysore has literally lost his license to kill, owls will no longer die for experiments that leave them brain-damaged and suffering…This should end the atrocity on owls, and PETA is calling on NIH and Johns Hopkins to make it official.”

Mysore’s experiments were to attempt to study human attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but to do that using birds with very different hearing and vision than humans makes little sense. According to PETA, the experiments involve cutting into barn owls’ skulls, implanting electrodes in their brains, forcing the birds into plastic tubes or jackets so cramped that they cannot move their wings, clamping their eyes open, and bombarding them with sounds and lights for up to 12 hours.

Maryland state Sen. Benjamin F. Kramer has recently sent letters to JHU, MD DNR, and NIH calling on them to permanently end Mysore’s lethal experiments on owls and sanction him for repeatedly violating state law. Kramer wrote, “[T]hese experiments on owls have been a source of great public concern and appear to render no concrete translatability to human health… I find it astounding that JHU, which receives millions of taxpayer dollars, on an annual basis, has so flagrantly disregarded Maryland State Law and allowed the owls to be killed.”