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An animal rights activist group is stirring contoversy for its work exposing lab animal care violations reported by research institutions to federal funding agencies.

Plans by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers to resume maternal deprivation experiments on monkeys has prompted renewed opposition on the Dane County Board.

"The maternal deprivation experiments shock the conscience," reads a resolution proposed last week. "By their very design, they maximize the suffering of the animals subjected to the experiments. The experiments are intended to inflict pain and distress on animals with no potential payoff in terms of finding a cure for a disease."

The resolution, introduced by Supervisor Al Matano, calls for the termination of the experiments, saying they're "morally wrong, as they inflict suffering on monkeys with no expectation of medical gains for humans."

The resolution has 11 other co-sponsors.

Researchers contend that the experiments -- designed to inflict extreme emotional trauma on 20 rhesus monkeys -- could lead to treatments for children suffering from depression, substance abuse or other mental health problems.

Critics call them cruel.

The resolution, which will first be addressed by the County Board's Executive Committee, reprises a battle between the board and the UW several years ago.

In 2010 Matano introduced a resolution to establish a panel to study the ethics of primate research, but it died in committee.

The current version references the county involvement at that time, calling a series of UW public forums in response to the proposed panel "an attempt to create a substitute" for the ethics question.

"Apparently perceiving the 'danger' of public scrutiny to have passed, the University of Wisconsin has resumed its most ethically unjustifiable experiments, the maternal deprivation experiments," the resolution reads.

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.