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Georgia man cited for holding sea turtle by shell at Maui beach

A 60-year-old Georgia man visiting Maui may be facing federal charges for picking up a sea turtle by its shell and lifting it out of the water at a beach in Kaanapali.

The Division of Conservation and Resources officers cited the man under Hawaii Administrative Rules for prohibited activities.

Witnesses saw the man and his son in shallow water, and witnessed him picking up the turtle today. They reported it via the DLNRTip app and provided photos and video of the man and his son.

The man and his son told DOCARE officers that the turtle swam toward them, and the father briefly picked up the turtle. When people yelled at him to put it back in the water, he did.

Officers cited the man, and the case was turned over to the federal authorities since turtles are protected under federal and state laws.

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla said, “Ignorance of the law has never been a good defense.”

He said that DLNR, county and federal partners, as well as private and volunteer organizations use outreach methods and platforms to try to reach visitors to Hawaii, but said, “Unfortunately, we can’t reach every single person who encounters a turtle or other marine wildlife and hope that people will use their common sense and show respect to these creatures.”

Anyone who witnesses wildlife harassment is urged to call the 24-hour DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR (3567) or report suspected violations using the free DLNRTip app.

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