All chimpanzees will now be considered endangered by the US, the New York Times reports.
Previously, only wild chimpanzees were designated as endangered, while captive chimps were deemed to be threatened. This split status, given in 1990, was meant to help protect wild chimps while enabling chimps to be used for HIV and other biomedical research projects, ScienceInsider notes.
Now, however, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to give all chimps an endangered label. These new rules, the Times notes, will go into effect in September after a 90-day grace period.
Under this rule, researchers and organizations working with chimps will have to obtain a permit from USFWS and will have to show how their research will benefit wild chimps and help them survive. Other work that is critical for understanding human disease may be permitted to continue even if it doesn't benefit chimps, though the organization conducting the work would have to make a monetary contribution toward the conservation of wild chimps, ScienceInsider says.
"We have been working closely with the NIH [National Institutes of Health] and the biomedical research community to make sure they understand the implications of our final rule," USFWS Director Dan Ashe said at a press conference, according to ScienceInsider. "If anyone is actively engaged in chimpanzee research, they should apply for a permit now."
NIH itself has moved to limit work involving chimpanzees, as it recently retired some 300 of its research chimps.