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NOAA now offering $20K reward for information on 2 monk seal deaths on Kauai

  • COURTESY NOAA FISHERIES
                                Hawaiian monk seal RL52 was found dead Sept. 10 along the Anahola coastline.

    COURTESY NOAA FISHERIES

    Hawaiian monk seal RL52 was found dead Sept. 10 along the Anahola coastline.

Federal wildlife officials are offering a reward for information on two recent Hawaiian monk seal deaths that occurred within months of one another on Kauai’s North Shore.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement previously offered up to $20,000 for the death of one seal, but is now offering the sum for two, as it continues investigating the cause of their deaths near Anahola Beach Park.

The first seal, a juvenile male identified as RL52, was found dead around Sept. 10. The second seal, a juvenile female, was found dead around Nov. 18.

The second seal’s identity is unknown because she was not tagged, and had no other markings. The carcass was collected by officials, and will be necropsied at a later date. The loss of a juvenile, female seal is considered a setback to species recovery efforts, officials said, because of the loss of all her potential offspring, as well.

“The intentional killing of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal is a violation of federal law,” said Assistant Director Martina Sagapolu of OLE’s Pacific Islands Division in a statement. “It is our hope that this reward will encourage someone to provide us with the information needed to arrest and convict those who would commit such a heinous act.”

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species, with a population of only about 1,400 remaining in the wild, and killing one is considered both a federal and state crime.

Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to unlawfully “take,” meaning to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct with respect to any species listed, including Hawaiian monk seals.

Under state law, intentionally or knowingly killing a monk seal is considered a felony.

The reward of up to $20,000 is possible for any information that leads to the issuance of a civil penalty or criminal conviction in one or both of these endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

Anyone with information is urged to contact NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

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