This is from today's NABR newletter. As if we don't have enough to deal with...

November 15, 2004

An undetermined number of laboratory mice, rats and pigeons were released, more than 30 computers were damaged, and hazardous materials were dumped sometime over the past weekend in research laboratories and faculty and graduate student offices at the University of Iowa (UI). The extensive damages were discovered early Sunday morning, November 14, and law enforcement authorities - including local and state police and the FBI - continue to investigate the crime for which no one has claimed responsibility. There were no reports of injuries to faculty, staff or students in connection with the incident. University officials are still assessing the damages, but said they expected the monetary value to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

According to a UI press release, most of the damage was in Spence Labs and in the east wing of Seashore Hall, both of which are home to the UI Department of Psychology. Because of uncertainty about the extent of the damage, including the deliberate dumping of chemicals, UI Police decided Sunday afternoon to evacuate Spence Labs and all of Seashore Hall, which also houses the UI School of Journalism, the Department of Sociology, and UI offices such as the Audiovisual Center, Internal Audit, and the Ombudspersons Office.

Classes have been cancelled and faculty and staff are not being allowed in the building, except under limited circumstances, until a preliminary criminal investigation is completed and until hazardous materials dumped during the vandalism can be contained and removed.

The UI Police Department was called to the scene at 8:38 a.m. Sunday in response to a reported break-in. UI police called the Iowa City Fire Department at 9:49 a.m. after discovering a chemical spill. Johnson County Hazardous Materials Team was also called to the scene.

"Because the investigation is still under way, we are not releasing any additional details about this incident at this time," said Duane Papke, associate director of the UI Police. "We encourage anyone with information about this incident to call our office at (319) 335-5022."

NABR has also learned that a nearly completed science building under construction at the University of Minnesota-Duluth was also vandalized sometime over the weekend. Details about this incident are somewhat sketchy and law enforcement officials are currently investigating. Police officials said there is no evidence, thus far, linking this incident to the crimes at the UI.

Although no animal or environmental group has claimed responsibility for either of these attacks, NABR encourages our membership to be on heightened alert, and strongly suggests that institutions review their NABR Crisis Management Manual for tips on preventing and responding to animal rights-related incidents. An electronic version of The NABR Crisis Management Manual can be downloaded here.