Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona signed a bill into law today that makes it a third-degree felony to intentionally kill an endangered Hawaiian monk seal.
There are about 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals. The law was prompted by the death of a monk seal shot on Kauai last year. In that case, the man who shot the seal took a plea agreement of 90 days in prison and a $25 fine.
Under the new law, violators would face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
“This is a symbolic step towards taking this critical species recovery seriously,” said Keiko Bonk, an environmental activist who pushed for the law.
Aiona is acting governor while Gov. Linda Lingle is on a two-week trip to China and Japan.