WILMINGTON — The United States Department of Agriculture has cited and fined Air Transport International, a subsidiary company of Air Transport Services Group, for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act by failing to offer primates water every 12 hours.
ATI allegedly “failed to offer water to nonhuman primates at least once every 12 hours from the last time the nonhuman primates received water prior to transportation in commerce,” read a citation and notice of penalty from the USDA. “ATI transported 1,098 nonhuman primates on a 23-hour flight from Guangzhou, China, through Anchorage, Alaska, to Houston, Texas. The crate configuration in the cargo area of the plane prevented some of the nonhuman primates from receiving water.”
That flight was on Dec. 8, 2014. The fine was dated April of this year and was released recently.
The alleged violation came later in the same year that ATI was officially warned by the USDA for allegedly violating federal regulations regarding the enclosures used in transporting primates.
One primate had several small lacerations to its face, which, according to an inspection report, were caused when it managed to loosen a metal strip, exposing itself to the sharp edges of metal mesh underneath.
“The USDA fine against Air Transport International is nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” wrote Michael A. Budkie, co-founder of the Milford-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now group. “ATI had already received an Official Warning and still continued to violate the law. This penalty should have been much larger.”
Paul Cunningham, a spokesperson for ATSG, did not respond to requests for comment. When the News Journal previously reported on the allegations, Cunningham declined to comment.
The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 regulates the research, transportation, exhibition or dealing of animals. Violations of the law can result in official warnings, loss of license, civil penalties or criminal penalties and can include prison sentences or fines.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.