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This Sonoran city removed the spines from hundreds of stingrays on its beaches

Preparing for an influx of tourists during Semana Santa — or Holy Week — a coastal Sonoran town removed the spines from hundreds of stingrays on its beaches.

The ecology department in the coastal town of Huatabampo spurred outrage this week for what many are calling animal mutilation.

Wildlife veterinarian Elsa Coria Galindo, director of the wildlife rescue CRRIFS, says removing stingrays’ spines could put the species at risk, leaving it defenseless from predators as well as beachgoers who can harm the animals by stepping on them.

She says there is no evidence removing the spines is safe for the stingrays, and some studies show it is ineffective at preventing stings because the animals move from beach to beach.

It’s especially tragic, she says, because people can easily avoid stings just by shuffling their feet as they enter the water.

Huatabampo Mayor Juan Jesús Flores Mendoza has said he did not approve of the spine removals and has suspended the person responsible.

Kendal Blust, an Arizona native, reports from KJZZ’s bureau in Hermosillo, Sonora, focusing on business and economic relationships between Arizona and northern Mexico.Prior to joining KJZZ, Kendal worked at the Nogales International, reporting on border and immigration issues, local government, education and business. While working on her master’s degree at University of Arizona School of Journalism, she did stints with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tico Times in Costa Rica, and completed a thesis project about women art activists in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.In her pre-journalist life, Kendal was a teacher, first helping Spanish high school students learn English, then heading to Tucson to teach fourth grade.When she’s not in the newsroom, Kendal enjoys getting outside for a hike or a swim, catching a good movie, hanging out with family and friends, and eating great food.