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In a setback to Charles River Laboratories (CRL), a federal judge temporarily blocked its contractors from commercially harvesting horseshoe crabs — whose blood is used for reagents — from a national wildlife refuge because the federal government did not properly authorize the work.

The preliminary injunction was issued in a lawsuit filed by an environmental group that claimed the harvesting harms the crabs and threatens migratory birds that depend on crab eggs. Defenders of Wildlife contended the harvesting is illegal because contracted commercial fishermen do not have proper permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which did not study the effects of the harvesting.

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