Maui News

$10,000 Reward Offered for Information on Monk Seal Death

March 8, 2017, 4:45 PM HST
* Updated March 8, 4:48 PM
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R4DP. Federal and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the death of a fifteen-year-old endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal found on the beach near ʻEleʻele on Kauai on February 23rd. PC: Hawaiʻi DLNR.

A group of non-profit, non-government organizations has stepped forward to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who may have participated in the death of a Hawaiian monk seal on Kaua‘i last month.

This is the 5th time the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust have offered rewards for monk seal deaths.

Further details will be released during a news conference on Friday afternoon, hosted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The incident was reported on the beach near ʻEleʻele on Kauaʻi on Feb. 23, 2017.  The female seal, known as R4DP, was in good health with no apparent disease.

State and federal conservation enforcement officers say the seal’s death is suspicious because it had injuries inconsistent with any natural cause of death typically associated with month seals.

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This is the 11th monk seal since 2009 found dead under suspicious circumstances. That means law enforcement authorities have good reason to suspect one or more people were directly involved and their activities were unauthorized or illegal.

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Monk seal deaths due to interactions with fishing activities are considered in a different category, and the death of R4DP does not appear to be for this reason, according to authorities.

Hawai‘i’s native seals, numbering around 1400 left in the wild, are protected under both the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act and by state law.

Violations under any of these laws can be charged either in criminal or civil court, with criminal convictions under the ESA carrying fines as high as $50,000, or imprisonment for up to a year, or both.

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