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Steve Irwin fans turn on stingrays

'Revenge attacks' suspected in 10 ray deaths

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Stingrays found dead on two Queensland beaches may have been the victims of "revenge attacks" for the Crocodile Hunter's untimely death, the BBC reports.

Ten of the animals have been discovered "mutilated" - two on a beach north of Brisbane and eight at another undisclosed location. Irwin was killed by a stingray while diving off the Queensland coast earlier this month.

Wayne Sumpton of the state fisheries department could not confirm that the killings were connected to Mr Irwin's death, but government officials said the authorities are investigating and prosecutions may follow.

Michael Hornby, director of Mr Irwin's Wildlife Warrior fund, roundly condemned the killings, saying: "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. This is what Steve was all about."

In cyberspace, meanwhile, an online gaming website has attracted some flack for distributing an "offbeat memorial to Steve Irwin" via email in the form of a stingray-exterminating game called "Terri Irwin's Revenge".

According to stuff.co.nz, the MoFunZone freebie "takes the form of a simple animated pop-up box which depicts an armed Terri Irwin firing at stingrays underwater". The aim of the game is "to kill as many stingrays as possible without getting hit".

However, the mixed public reaction to Terri Irwin's Revenge can be gauged by a statement posted by creators Josh Tuttle, -altr- and Onic, which reads: "We are getting mixed reactions from our visitors regarding this game. We should make it clear, this game is intended to be a memorial and NOT a funny parody." ®

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