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Lay Off The Stingrays Warns Australian Environoment Minister

The normally placid stingray.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Sept 14, 2006
An Australian government minister on Thursday urged grief-stricken fans of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin not to hunt down stingrays in a misguided attempt to avenge his death. Environment Minister Ian Campbell issued the impassioned call after as many as 10 dead and mutilated stingrays were found on beaches in Queensland state, where Irwin died last week when stabbed in the heart by a stringray's barb.

"Like most Australians I'm terribly saddened by Steve Irwin's untimely and accidental death," Campbell said in a statement which followed a similar appeal by Irwin's friends and colleagues.

"No matter how greatly he is missed, he would deplore such cruel attacks on the creatures and wildlife he dedicated his life's work and energy to protecting," Campbell said. Irwin's death at the age of 44 focused world attention on the usually passive stingray as hours of broadcast air time and acres of newsprint were dedicated to the conservationist's death amid a national outpouring of grief.

In the days after he died dramatically while filming a new television series about deadly creatures, 10 stringrays were found with their tails cut off, spawning suspicions that they might have become victims of revenge attacks. But Campbell said that instead of fearing the marine creatures, Australians should develop a healthy respect for them "Leaving aside the senseless cruelty of these acts, people need to remember that cutting the tails from these animals exposes you to danger," he said.

"I call on the Queensland government to look into these reports as a matter of urgency and to ensure the protection of the Queensland coastal environment as well as the safety of those enjoying the coast."

Michael Hornby, executive director of Irwin's Wildlife Warrior fund, said earlier this week the killings could be in retaliation for his death, and if that proved to be true, it would fly in the face of everything his friend believed in.

"Stingrays are beautiful creatures and play an important role for the environment. I hope everyone understands we have to protect wildlife now more than ever. This is what Steve was all about," he said.

Government fisheries manager of animal welfare, Rick Symons, said staff were investigating and offenders could be prosecuted if evidence of cruelty was found.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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A federal court in Trenton, N.J., is sentencing a group of animal rights activists for their part in a Web-based campaign of violence and intimidation against a company that conducts medical experiments on animals. Three members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, or SHAC, an international network of campaigners, were sentenced Tuesday, and a fourth Wednesday, receiving jail terms of between three and six years.

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