The Humane Society of the United States, along with the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Monk Seal Foundation are now rewarding $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for killing of a baby monk seal in Anahola last Sunday.
The amount is double the initial reward offered by HSUS. Monk seals are endemic to Hawai‘i — they are a native species found nowhere else in the world. The species is critically endangered.
“The support these organizations are providing to help identify, arrest and convict the individual(s) responsible for this heinous act, is invaluable in raising public awareness and generating information about this killing and previous ones,” state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair William Aila Jr. said in a statement.
The young female seal (RF58) was found dead from blunt force trauma at a beach in Anahola on Nov. 30. She was born on June 28 on Kaua‘i’s northeast coast. RF58 was seen perfectly healthy and behaving normally when observed near her birthplace less than 24 hours before she was found dead.
There are about 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the world, with approximately 90 percent of them in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the remaining spread around the Main Hawaiian Islands.
It’s a Class C felony to kill a monk seal. Someone convicted could face fines of up to $50,000 and five years in prison. It is also against federal law to kill or harm a Hawaiian monk seal and a conviction can include additional fines and jail time.
“Like all Hawaiian monk seals, RF58 was a vital and integral part of our native Hawaiian ecosystem,” Aila, said. “Killing a healthy young female monk seal in the wild is senseless and only makes things worse for our local ocean resources and the people who depend on them.”
RF58 was the daughter of a well-known seal (RH58, or “Rocky”) who spends most of her time on O‘ahu, but usually pups on Kauai. She and her mother were victims of a dog attack in July 2014 that killed another pup. After developing abscesses (i.e., infection) from the dog bites, RF58 was treated by a veterinarian and recovered.
According to the preliminary post-mortem report from the Marine Mammal Center and NOAA Fisheries’ Conservation Medicine Officer, “The seal likely did not die immediately, but from complications associated with massive trauma and internal bleeding.”
The most recent suspicious death of a Hawaiian monk seal had been in April 2012, also on Kaua‘i. From November 2011-April 2012, there were four seals found dead under suspicious circumstances on Kaua‘i and Moloka‘i.
The Humane Society of the United States, the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Monk Seal Foundation and the DLNR are also offering $10,000 rewards for information that leads to arrest and conviction in each of four previous illegal monk seal deaths in 2011 and 2012.
DLNR Tipline is 1-855-DLNR-TIP, and all information is held in confidence.