Kauaʻi Man Arrested in Connection With Monk Seal Beating
An arrest has been made in connection with the beating of a pregnant monk seal on Kauaʻi, reported earlier this week.
Authorities say 19-year-old Shylo Akuna of ʻEleʻele was arrested on Thursday afternoon on suspicion of “taking” a monk seal, which includes harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing or collecting an endangered or threatened aquatic species or terrestrial wildlife.
A short video clip of the incident circulated on social media and supported eyewitness accounts that led to the arrest.
If convicted of the Class C felony, Akuna could face one to five years in prison. Additionally, the state environmental court may impose a fine of up to $50,000.
Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species with about 1,300 still in existence.
DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel said, “Thanks to the joint efforts of our Kauaʻi branch officers, special agents from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Kauaʻi Police Department, and Hawaiʻi State Sheriffs we were able to investigate this crime, make an arrest, and bring this part of the case to a quick conclusion.”
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “We’re grateful to the concerned citizens who brought this action to our attention and were willing to step forward with additional information to help law enforcement identify and arrest the suspect. We’re fortunate that the Hawaiʻi State Legislature passed HRS 195D which provides very stiff penalties for these repugnant behaviors.
Ann M. Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, with the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office said, “NOAA Fisheries sincerely appreciates the outpouring of community support for RK30, the Hawaiian monk seal involved in this incident. She’s an important and productive member of the seal population. It’s clear from this outpouring that folks care a great deal about monk seals, and don’t want to see them harmed. The quick action by DLNR DOCARE, the Kauaʻi Police Department, and NOAA OLE is very commendable, and likely would not have been as successful without the support of caring community members.”
Anyone who witnesses a monk seal or any other endangered or threatened species being threatened or injured in any manner by a person is urged to immediately call the NOAA Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DOCARE statewide hotline at 643-DLNR.