Another Researcher Apparently Targeted for Death

Animal Rights Extremism

Animal rights extremists may be responsible for cutting the brake lines of a University of California, Santa Cruz, marine biologist's car, believing the researcher conducted animal experiments. The biologist's wife discovered the damage May 24 when she noticed a puddle of brake fluid under the vehicle in the driveway of their home and alerted police.

The incident was the fourth directed at UCSC researchers in two years, three of which involved actions clearly intended to hurt humans. In years past, most violence related to animal rights has been directed at property. 

Jerry Vlasak, the so-called "press officer" for the North American Animal Liberation Front (ALF), told ABC News he didn't know if ALF activists were behind the latest incident. Typically, anonymous activists acting in the name of ALF contact Vlasak's office to claim credit for their attacks. Vlasak said ALF hadn't received a communiqué regarding the latest incident but noted that such claims often aren't made for a month or more after attacks. 

The targeted biologist, whose identity was not released, may have been selected because the saboteurs believed he conducts research on animals. But Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Rick Martinez said the scientist performs environmental conservation research and does not use animals. 

In August 2008, UCSC molecular biologist David Feldheim's home and a fellow researcher's car were firebombed in separate incidents at a faculty housing area on campus. Feldheim suffered injuries to his feet as he escaped the home with his family. Police have no suspects in either case. 

In February 2008, six masked intruders attempted to barge into another UCSC researcher's home during a child's birthday party. The researcher's husband was attacked when he tried to stop them. Four animal rights activists, two of whom were former UCSC students, were arrested a year later: Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo. At press time, a trial date was expected to be set for some time this fall.