Reward Offered in Hawaiian Monk Seal Death Investigation on Kauaʻi
By Maui Now Staff
State and Federal agencies are seeking information on the suspicious death of a monk seal on the Island of Kauaʻi over the weekend.
The young female seal, also known as RF58, was born on June 28, 2014 on Kauaʻi’s northeast coast. Authorities say she was found dead in Anahola on Nov. 30, 2014, with injuries that were described as “blunt force trauma.”
***Warning: some images in the slideshow below may be disturbing.
DLNR authorities released information today saying a preliminary post-mortem report from the Marine Mammal Center and NOAA Fisheries’ Conservation Medicine Officer states that, “The seal likely did not die immediately, but from complications associated with massive trauma and internal bleeding.”
The Humane Society of the United States in cooperation with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, has posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this latest monk seal death.
Prior to the weekend incident, the last suspicious death of a Hawaiian monk seal was in April 2012, also on Kauaʻi. From November 2011-April 2012, DLNR officials say there were four seals found dead under suspicious circumstances on Kauaʻi and Molokaʻi.
Anyone with information is asked to call the state’s toll-free, confidential reward tip line at 1-855-DLNR-TIP.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in cooperation with the DLNR officials released photos today in the hopes of determining who was responsible.
State officials say the seal was observed to be in perfectly good healthy and “behaving normally” when she was observed near her birthplace less than 24 hours before she was found dead.
“Like all Hawaiian monk seals, RF58 was a vital and integral part of our native Hawaiian ecosystem,” said William Aila, Jr., DLNR chair. “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,” he said in a press release statement.
The agency notes that Hawaiian monk seals are considered critically endangered. The crime of killing a monk seal is considered a Class C felony, punishable by up to $50,000 in fines and five years in prison. A conviction under federal law could result in additional fines and jail time.
Authorities say RF58 and her mother were the victims of a dog attack earlier this year that killed another pup. RF58 was treated for an infection from the dog bites, but recovered from her injuries.