Death to the protected

Published: Saturday 15 October 1994

When Rafiki, a sea lion protected by the US government, was shot in the head at point blank range while swimming in the Monterey Bay in California, she became the latest victim of spiteful violence against endangered species. US wildlife officers say that some people have developed this strange penchant for attacking protected animals, motivated not by the lure of lucre but sheer spite.

There have also been cases of grizzly bears being mercilessly run over by local farmers using pickup vans. The killings have been dubbed as the 3S Syndrome: shoot, shovel and shut up. "There's a new meanness out there," says Rick Branzell, a special agent for the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

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