Three Hawaiian Monk Seals have been found slain recently in Hawaii, so conservation groups are offering $30,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. Two were found slain on Molokai in November, and another was found recently on Kauai. Another seal death is under investigation, so there could be four total. These seals are critically endangered, with less than 1,100 remaining in the wild, and they could be extinct in fifty to one hundred years.
“Why would anyone do this to such social, fun-loving animals in Hawaii that have a close relationship with not only with Native Hawaiians but the local population,” asked William Aila, chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. (Source: WashingtonPost)
A confidential, toll-free tip line 1-855-DLNR-TIP (1-855-356-7847) has been set up for members of the public to provide information to authorities about the seal attacks, to help them solve the case.
The Humane Society of the United States, the Conservation Council for Hawaii, Center for Biological Diversity and the Marine Conservation Institute are the groups providing the reward money. Additionally, a $15,000 donation was made anonymously.
The penalty for harming the endangered monk seals was increased in 2010, because it had been too lax. It was increased to up to five years in prison, when it had been far less. A man who shot and killed a pregnant seal only was sentenced to ninety days in jail, 2009.
Factors contributing to the decline of Hawaiian monks seals are: intentional killing, loss of habitat, marine debris, and disease. They are found only in Hawaii.
If you are in Hawaii, and see a monk seal, it is best for their well-being and your own to keep a safe distance. The National Marine Fisheries guidelines for viewing Monk Seals are:
- When viewing a monk seal on the beach, observe them from at least 150 feet away and limit your observation time to one-half hour.
- Never attempt to swim with or touch a Hawaiian monk seal. They are wild animals and have been known to be aggressive and bite humans.
- Keep your pet on a leash at all times in the presence of seals. Seals can be aggressive and have been known to bite dogs.