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USDA issues $127,000 civil penalty to Alaska Fairbanks for 12 musk oxen deaths

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been penalized more than $127,000 after 12 musk oxen were found dead from malnutrition at its large-animal research station.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture administrative law judge issued the civil penalty Thursday for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. An animal rights group initially filed a complaint over the deaths in 2011, prompting a USDA investigation.

The agency's complaint says the university failed to provide adequate veterinary care, identify that the musk oxen were losing weight or enlist veterinary treatment for the animals. The oxen died or were euthanized between Aug. 29, 2010, and Feb. 16, 2011.

The university entered the agreement without admitting fault. A university spokeswoman says it would have been more expensive to go to a hearing.

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