Skip to main content

U.S. flag An official website of the United States government

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

APHIS Seeks Input on a Policy on Free-living Wild Species in Their Natural Habitat

September 11, 2020-- The 2017 Government Accountability Office audit, entitled “Animal Use in Federal Research,” recommended that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) provide research facilities with clear criteria for identifying field studies covered under the Animal Welfare Act regulations. The criteria would cover studies that facilities are required to include in the annual report of animal use submitted to APHIS, as well as studies that are not required to be reported. 

APHIS is seeking public comment on a proposed policy document, “Research Involving Free-living Wild Species In Their Natural Habitat,” to assist research institutions in determining whether an activity involving free-living wild animals in their natural habitat meets the regulatory definition of “field study.” The proposed policy would describe criteria that research facilities could use to identify activities that are invasive, harmful, or that materially alter animal behavior.  

APHIS encourages members of the public and the regulated community to provide feedback on the draft policy. APHIS will carefully consider all comments received on or before October 12, 2020. This proposed policy may be viewed on display at:

Members of the public may submit comments at or in writing to Docket No. APHIS-2020-0087, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.  If you have questions or need more information, please feel free to contact our office by calling 301-851-3751 or emailing us at

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

Complementary Content