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Wolf Dog Coalition - Nov. 18, 1996 Congressman Wolf letter to USDA Administrator Medley

November 18, 1996

Mr. Terry L. Medley, Administrator
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
Jamie Whitten Building, Room 312E\
Washington, DC 20250-3401

Dear Mr. Medley:

I am writing on behalf of Mr. Gene Sydnor. One of my staff members recently had a meeting with Mr. Sydnor, in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to not license a rabies vaccination of wolfdog hybrids. My office has failed to understand this decision by the USDA. I was informed by your predecessor, Dr. King, that a panel of scientists was being convened to determine the proper taxoniomical classification of the wolfdog for vaccination.

If the information I received is correct, which I believe it is, then the panel supported the use of vaccination of canine hybrids. My staff is well aware of the recent wolf reintroduction efforts in Yellowstone National Park and Everglades. The programs were carried out vaccinating all reintroduced animals. With this in mind, it is reasonable to assert that Canis lupus (wolf) and Canis lupus familiaris (domesticated dog) are similar in genetic identity and in IgG antibody production. Thus, it would be scientifically feasible to assume that a canine rabies vaccine developed for use in Canis lupus familiaris would be equally responsive and effective for use in Canis lupus.

My concern continues to be the lack of action by the USDA on this matter. The Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) held a scientific meeting for this purpose and that same panel supported the scientific evidence behind all canine vaccination. Dr. Raymond Pierotti, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, wrote a supporting letter stating, "..Dr. Miller, the chief veterinarian for APHIS, rendered a decision that the "data were conflicting and inconclusive" and "do not support a change in APHIS policy at this time." In my opinion Dr. Miller's decision is not only not in accordance to the best scientific evidence, but directly in contrast to the opinion of every scientist present."

If APHIS is going to ignore the findings of its own panel, then I believe it has an obligation to hybrid owners to explain its reasoning. The refusal to license a vaccine for wolfdogs will place a large population of canines' unprotected from rabies. High numbers of unvaccinated canines carry a potentially devastating consequence to public health.

While I lack the scientific expertise to properly judge this matter, I do understand the rudimentaries of evolutionary biology and current federal programs to reintroduce the wolf in various national parks. I would ask that the APHIS review this case and the enclosed material and provide my office with a response.

If you could address your correspondence to Mr. Ted Cartwright who is currently handling this project for me.

  With best wishes, I am


  Frank R. Wolf
  Member of Congress

Copy of original signed letter is available upon request.
Contact The Wolf Dog Coalition ( psykowuf@erols.com ).

Copyright © 1998 Wolf Dog Coalition. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint this letter in its entirety granted.

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