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Dog attack suspected in Hawaiian monk seal pup death

                                Hawaiian monk seal RN58 (Luana) and her newborn pup, PO7, on the North Shore of Oahu.
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Hawaiian monk seal RN58 (Luana) and her newborn pup, PO7, on the North Shore of Oahu.

Federal wildlife officials today reported the death of a newborn monk seal pup on Oahu’s North Shore due to an alleged dog attack.

The pup, identified as PO7, was born to a monk seal known as Luana, or RN58, on the North Shore, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Volunteers first spotted the mom-and-pup pair on Thursday.

NOAA Fisheries said the death was reported as a dog attack that occurred Thursday evening but is conducting a post-mortem exam to determine the cause.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident but said no further details are available at this time.

Officials remind the public that the peak pupping season for Hawaiian monk seals is from March through August.

“To give these pups the best chance at survival, it is important to give mothers with pups at least 150 feet of space and keep dogs leashed when at the beach,” said NOAA in a news release.

The deceased pup was the seventh pup born on Oahu this year.

Kaiwi’s pup, formerly known as PO5, was the fifth pup born on Oahu, and recently named Pa‘aki by Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School students. Officials have cordoned off most of Kaimana Beach to protect the monk seal mom and pup and the public.

Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered seal species in the world, according to NOAA, with only an estimated 1,600 remaining in the wild. NOAA says each pup represents hope for the species’ recovery. They are protected by federal and state laws.

Report monk seal sightings, injuries, and strandings to NOAA’s Marine Wildlife Hotline at 888- 256-9840.

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