DLNR Seeks Two Suspects in Possible Stream Poisonings

October 28, 2018, 10:17 AM HST · Updated October 28, 10:17 AM
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The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) is asking for help in identifying two men they suspect are connected with the recent poisonings of several East Hawai‘i streams. Hundreds of dead Tahitian prawns were found in these streams shortly after the men were seen on surveillance cameras at the Hawai‘i Tropical Botanical Garden, according to the DLNR.

On Monday, Oct. 1, officers reported that at about 10 in the morning, two men snuck into the garden where staff told them to leave until they paid the entrance fee. The officers believe the two men re-entered the gardens by crawling under a security fence that crosses over one of the streams. Shortly after, images of the two men appeared on the garden’s cameras.  

The next day, garden maintenance staff spotted hundreds of dead or near-dead prawns floating in stream pools.  DOCARE called in inspectors from the State Dept. of Agriculture (DOA) to take samples. DOA collected 20 prawns for further testing and analysis.  A day later, DOCARE officers walked numerous streams and pools above the garden and spotted more dead prawns and an empty bottle of pesticide. All of the prawns in the water below the bottle were dead, while those above were alive, the officers said. The officers saw these prawns in the Onomea Papaikou/Pepeekeo area and Alakahi Stream where it crosses Old Mamalahoa Highway to its ocean entrance past the Onomea Na Ala Hele trail.

Last May, DLNR/DOCARE issued a warning for people to avoid buying prawns from roadside stands or anywhere that they do not know where the prawns came from. While there is no evidence that anyone has gotten sick eating poisoned prawns, the DLNR said there are stories in the community of people getting sick after eating them. It is a Class C felony to poison streams or rivers in Hawai‘i. DOCARE officers have contacted men hauling 50-pound bags of prawns from East Hawai‘i waterways. They have also tried to contact roadside vendors. In all past cases there was not enough evidence to prove a poisoning or people took off before officers could contact them.

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The two men DOCARE officers would like to contact are described as:

  • Mid-20s, 5’6”, 135 lbs and black hair
  • Mid-30’s, 5’8”, 145 lbs and black hair with a short ponytail.

Anyone with information on the suspected stream poisonings or who can provide help in identifying the persons-of-interest are being asked to contact DOCARE:

  • Hilo Office – 808-933-3460
  • Statewide Tip Line – 643-DLNR (3567)
  • DLNRTip App-Free download for iPhones or Android devices
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