Government officials in Australia are investigating whether the corpses of mutilated stingrays washed up on Australian beaches are the result of revenge killings following the tragic death of Steve Irwin last week.
Almost a dozen mutilated stingrays have been found dead on the beaches of eastern Australia since Irwin was killed by a Bull ray last week, leading experts to ponder whether the fish were the victims of "revenge killings" by fans of TV's Crocodile Hunter.
According to a report from News.com.au, two stingrays were found dead today at Deception Bay, north of Brisbane, with their tails chopped off. Yesterday, eight of the fish were found in similar circumstances at Dundowran Beach, near Hervey Bay.
Wayne Sumpton, a biologist from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries told the agency that it was not yet known how the rays were caught or whether the incidents were linked to Irwin's death. Fishermen sometimes cut off the tails from stingrays when they are landed to prevent themselves being stung, but Sumpton says such incidents are not common.
Michael Hornby, executive director of Wildlife Warrior and a friend of the late Irwin, said: "We just want to make it very clear that we will not accept and not stand for anyone who's taken a form of retribution. That's the last thing Steve would want. I hope everyone understands we have to protect wildlife now more than ever. That is what Steve was all about."
Irwin's funeral took place at the weekend. A public memorial service is due to take place in Australia later this week.