A baby monk seal is seen here nursing on her mother at Waipake Beach, just north of Lepeuli in this undated photo. Contributed photo

Following a recent near-tragedy involving off-leash dogs and a monk seal on O‘ahu, officials from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, reminded the public of a deadly dog attack on a monk seal pup on Kaua‘i years ago, and are asking the public to keep their dogs leashed on the beach at all times.

Dogs, by instinct, chase things, and in the case of resting Hawaiian monk seals and other wildlife, this natural trait can have serious and even deadly consequences. Last week, a couple of off-leash dogs approached a seal pup resting in a coastal area of O‘ahu, threatening the animal, according to a DLNR news release.

A team member from Hawai‘i Marine Animal Rescue intervened, and the seal was not injured. The dog’s owner was cited by the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Nearly six years ago, in July 2014, a two-week-old monk seal pup was killed by two at-large dogs on the north shore of Kaua‘i.  According to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, it appears the mother attempted to defend her pup, and suffered bite injuries as well. Two other pups and one other mother seal in the area also had dog bite lacerations and punctures. One pup was treated for the injuries by NOAA and DLNR.

Two weeks prior to the Kaua‘i attack, cameras set up by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife captured images of the two dogs roaming the  same area. Both dogs were captured with live traps, tested negative for disease, and surrendered to the Humane Society.

Last summer, officials caught two loose German Shepherds on the same beach as a newborn pup, likely averting another fatality. No owners were in sight.

Loose dogs have also been documented killing hundreds of ground-nesting seabirds.

These are the primary reasons anyone walking their dogs on Hawai‘i’s beaches should keep them on leash at all times.

Anyone who sees or suspects a natural or cultural resource violation is asked to please call, 643-DLNR or use the free DLNRTip app.


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