Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center property damaged by vandals, website shut down

PHOENIX -

Just days after staff at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale found extensive, as well as racist damage to the property - ABC15 has learned, their website has been hacked and shutdown.

"Somebody's got a well-coordinated attack after us," explained Linda Searles.

Searles is director of the center and said, she was told by the company that runs their website - someone deliberately flooded them with online traffic to cause it to crash.

"They not only hurt us," said Searles. "They hurt 3,000 other of their customers who lost time and data."

This feels like round two of fighting back for this organization.

Last year, the place was sued after a man said the facility was too loud.

"We thought the battle was over and we could move on and now," Searles said. “Now, we're being hit again."

Sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning is when the center said a vandal first struck.

The suspect spray-painted their gate keypad, painted a swastika on the drive-way and wrote 'DXE' on seven, or eight of their signs.

DXE stands for Direct Action Everywhere. They are an organization whose website states, advocates "against factory farming, animal abuse & animal cruelty.”

But, the organization told ABC15, they have nothing to do with this string of vandalism.

In a statement, they said:

"We strongly condemn this racist and anti-Semitic act. We are strictly an above-board group that is public, nonviolent, and anti-racist in all that we do, and a majority of our organizers are Jewish or people of color. This is not anyone we know and it goes against our values."

"It's so much effort and it's so negative and I just don't understand why people want to hate," Searles said.

Searles said they did have a security camera up, however - it does not work. They are planning on investing in one now. But, the costs are adding up.

They will have to replace the signs and possibly get a brand new gate and keypad.

On top of that, they want to catch whoever is responsible, so they are now offering a $2,000 reward for information that can help catch who is responsible.

If you have a tip, you can contact the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office online or by calling (602) 876-1000.

 

While their website is down, you may contact the center about donations by calling (480) 471-9109 or by clicking here.

You can register for a tour here.

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