NOAA offers reward for info on the killing of a Hawaiian Monk Seal

December 8, 2009, 4:00 AM HST · Updated December 10, 6:49 AM
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Federal officials are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the successful arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing a Hawaiian Monk Seal on Kauai earlier this year.

Special Agent William Pickering called the April 19, 2009 incident a heinous act.  The 5-year-old male seal was found deal at the remote Kaumakani Beach on the west side of Kauai.  Authorities determined the death involved foul play.

The estimated 1,200 Hawaiian Monk Seals in existence are protected under the Endangered Species Act.  Violations of the law can result in penalties of up to $50,000 and a year in jail.

The monk seal was known by researchers as RI-19.  “The killing of this endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal is not only a violation of federal law, but a crime against all the people who call Hawaii their home,” said Special Agent in Charge William Pickering of NOAA OLE’s Pacific Islands Division.

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The investigation is separate from another incident involving a pregnant Hawaiian Monk Seal that was killed May 21, 2009. Charles Vidinha of Kauai pled guilty in September to violating the Endangered Species Act and is currently serving time for that crime.

Those with information about the death of RI-19 should contact the NOAA OLE national hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

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