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Officials seek information on monk seal killing on Kauai

    State Department of Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila talks about dead monk seal at Kalanimoku Building earlier today.

Federal and state officials are seeking information on who killed another endangered Hawaiian monk seal on Kauai Monday.

A necropsy is being performed today on the juvenile, male monk seal that was found with a "suspicious" object in its head, officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said today.

DLNR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have set up separate hotlines for tips on what led to the monk seal’s death.

Anyone with information about the latest death — or the deaths of three monk seals on Molokai in the last several weeks — is asked to call NOAA’s OLE hotline at 800-853-1964 or DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 873-3990 or 643-DLNR (643-3567).

"This was not how I hoped the New Year would start," DLNR chairman William Aila Jr. said today. "Monk seals are a vital part of Hawaii’s marine ecosystems. The intentional killing of any monk seal is not only illegal, it is inexcusable environmentally and culturally."

Molokai community leader Walter Ritte said, "This is a dangerous trend that must be stopped. How we treat the seals is how we can be expected to be treated as Hawaiians in Hawaii."

More than 200 monk seals are thought to exist in the main Hawaiian islands and the population is growing at about 4 percent each year, Aila said, leading to fishing competition between monk seals and humans.

Another 1,000 to 1,100 monk seals are thought to be living in the northwest Hawaiian islands, but their population is declining at about 4 percent each year because of the threat of sharks and other large predators, Aila said.

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