Hawaiʻi Island man faces charges for alleged harassment of Hawaiian monk seal
A 52-year-old man was cited Tuesday by a trio of State and federal agencies after his dog was captured on videotape harassing a Hawaiian monk seal at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park on Oct. 10.
Law enforcement agencies are not identifying the individual involved, due to past experience in which people cited for seal harassment received multiple death threats via social media. Authorities did say the man recently relocated to Hawai‘i from the mainland.
A witness videotaped the dog running up on the seal and barking at it. It took several weeks for authorities to track the dog’s owner down. This week he was cited for the following:
- By the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) for:
- Take, harassment of endangered and threatened species under State law
- Permitting a dog to stray (no leash) under Hawai‘i County Code
- By National Park Service (NPS) law enforcement:
- Failure to restrain a pet (dog off leash)
- Disturbing of wildlife activities
- By NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE):
- Violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA)
For the State and Hawai‘i County charges the man has a court appearance scheduled in Kona District Court on Jan. 26, 2023.
On the NPS petty misdemeanor charges he can pay fines of $80 and $130 respectively, for the two violations, to avoid going to court.
For NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, charges are civil in nature, and penalties will be assessed, or determined, in accordance with NOAA’s Penalty Policy.
The law enforcement agencies caution that resting monk seals are powerful animals and could easily hurt or kill an off-leash dog. “Not to mention,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “monk seals are protected by a multitude of state and federal laws, as this individual learned.”
Anyone who spots wildlife harassment is asked to report it to the 24-hour DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app. Videos and photographs are helpful to authorities in identifying suspects.