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Group claiming credit for Vail fires says the aim was to help lynx

Building on fire
One of the destroyed ski resort buildings  
October 22, 1998
Web posted at: 7:14 p.m. EDT (2314 GMT)

From Correspondent Natalie Pawelski

VAIL, Colorado (CNN) -- Members of the Earth Liberation Front say they set seven buildings at the Vail ski resort on fire in an effort to protect the lynx, a small wildcat that is being reintroduced into the Rocky Mountains.

The ELF, a shadowy environmental group linked to previous bombings and arsons at government buildings in Oregon and Washington state, has claimed responsibility for the Sunday fires that caused $12 million in damage.

RELATED VIDEO
CNN's Natalie Pawelski provides some background on the group taking responsibility for the fires
Windows Media 28K 56K

In an e-mail message sent to a radio station in Denver, the group said Vail's plans to expand its resort operations into adjacent national forest land would "ruin the last, best lynx habitat in the state."

"Putting profits ahead of Colorado's wildlife will not be tolerated," the message said. "We will be back if this greedy corporation continues to trespass into wild and unroaded areas."

Lynx
Lynx  

Other environmentalists denounced the fires, calling ELF a fringe group whose actions did far more harm than good. But a spokeswoman for a group that has carried out similar actions disagreed.

"You can't argue with the results. The results have been very positive," said Katie Fedor of the Animal Liberation Front. "Time and time again, when money is lost, when profits decrease by economic sabotage ... the response is that the abusers stop what they're doing."

The FBI has launched an investigation into the Vail arson spree. Town officials say the community -- which had been divided over expansion of the ski resort -- may now unite behind the proposal in the wake of the fires.


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