FARGO — The watchdog organization SAEN, or Stop Animal Exploitation Now, is filing official complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the university.
The organization claims the complaint is because of the "unnecessary" deaths of at least 62 animals in the last two-and-a-half years.
Citing federal government records and internal lab and facility documents, SAEN Co-founder Michael Budkie claims there's an alarming pattern. Budkie alleges improper feeding of pregnant sheep, resulting in abortions or stillbirths of 60 lambs.
"If they can't even make sure the animals are fed correctly, it's just pathetic," Budkie said.
He also cites two other deaths involving cows. In one, a surgical error he says was not dealt with, resulting in the cow dying the next day.
In the other, a cow got out of an enclosure, going onto an iced-over lagoon, falling through and drowning. NDSU says in the report, it planned to fortify the enclosure.
Budkie claims these are violations of the "Animal Welfare Act."
"It strikes me as extremely negligent," Budkie said. "If they can't feed these animals correctly, if they can't perform surgery correctly, or if they can't even keep the animals in an enclosure, why should we believe they can do science?"
Budkie says NDSU was also hit with multiple citations in early 2018, where 11 lambs were crushed and killed.
He's urging the USDA to investigate, insisting on a maximum fine of $10,000 per infraction and animal. NDSU declined to comment on the complaint.
If the USDA moves forward with an investigation, it could take three to six months for an initial inspection. From there, it can take as many as three years to complete the investigation.