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NOAA: Post-mortem exam confirms monk seal pup attacked by dog

COURTESY HAWAII MARINE ANIMAL RESPONSE
                                Hawaiian monk seal RN58, also known as Luana, and her newborn pup, PO7, hang out on the North Shore of Oahu. The newborn monk seal pup died from injuries due to a dog attack.
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COURTESY HAWAII MARINE ANIMAL RESPONSE

Hawaiian monk seal RN58, also known as Luana, and her newborn pup, PO7, hang out on the North Shore of Oahu. The newborn monk seal pup died from injuries due to a dog attack.

Federal wildlife officials today said a post-mortem exam confirms a newborn monk seal pup born on Oahu’s North Shore died from injuries due to a dog attack.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says pup PO7 suffered from puncture wounds before death consistent in size with bites from a dog. Additionally, officials said hemorrhaging found in the pup’s body was consistent with shaking from a dog attack.

Officials also confirmed that the pup was a female, which makes the loss even more devastating for the endangered species.

“Female seals are critical to the recovery of this endangered species,” said NOAA Fisheries in a statement. “PO7 could have grown up to be a monk seal matriarch — birthing generations of new seals — so the pup’s death is a heavy loss to the population and conservation efforts.”

Pup PO7 was born to a well-known Hawaiian monk seal identified as Luana. Volunteers first spotted the mom-and-pup pair on a North Shore beach on May 23.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement continues to investigate the pup’s death. NOAA said an individual is cooperating with law enforcement officials, but that no further details are available at this time.

NOAA said this is the third known death of a monk seal resulting from a dog attack in the main Hawaiian Islands.

Last year, pup RS48, also known as Ho‘omau Lehua, was barely four months old when she was found dead in June on Oahu’s North Shore. Based on necropsy results, NOAA determined she likely died from a dog attack. In 2014, NOAA said monk seal pup RFX4 was killed after a dog attack on Kauai.

“We ask pet owners statewide to protect monk seals and other native wildlife by adhering to their county’s leash laws,” said NOAA in a statement. “Even a well-trained dog could react unpredictably when encountering a wild seal.”

Monk seal pup Kaiwi and her pup, Pa‘aki, meanwhile, continue to nurse and bond at Kaimana Beach under the watch of volunteers and state conservation officers from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

It has been more than 30 days since the pup, initially known as PO5, was believed to be born on May 1.

In Hawaii, leash laws are enforced by state, county, and Humane Society officials. The public can report safety issues due to off-leash dogs to DLNR at 808-643-DLNR or via the DLNRTip app.

NOAA welcomes reports of monk seal sightings, injuries, and strandings to its marine wildlife hotline at 888- 256-9840.

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