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    December 2017
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Rewards for Information on Monk Seal Killings Tops $50,000

Local and national non-profit and non-governmental organizations are offering $50,000 for information about the killings of five Hawaiian seals, with the February suspicious death of seal R4DP near ‘Ele‘ele on Kaua‘i making the matter even more urgent. Since 2011, these groups have offered $10,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people involved in the killing of Hawaiian monk seals.

These deaths are among 11 reported monk seal killings since 2009 that remain open and unsolved. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We are deeply indebted to The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i and the Center for Biological Diversity, which once again have stepped forward to try and help solve the senseless and outrageous killings of one of Hawai‘i’s iconic, naturally and culturally important marine mammals.”

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) continue to seek witnesses and information on the suspicious death of the 15-year-old female seal, tagged as R4DP.  Angela Amlin, the Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator for NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office commented, “We are still waiting for final lab results but everything indicates that R4DP was in good health and did not have any diseases.” DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell commented, “These may be serious crimes with significant fines and jail time punishable under both federal and state laws. DOCARE officers on Kaua‘i are working closely with NOAA/OLE agents to gather information and we hope anyone who has information about the death of R4DP or any of the other outstanding cases will come forward.” (Confidential tip line information is below).

Keith Dane, Hawai‘i policy advisor for The Humane Society of the United States, said “The magnitude of the reward for information about these suspicious deaths of defenseless monk seals reflects how much our community values these critically endangered animals and demands justice for those who would seek to harm them.”

Ben Callison, president of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust said, “If someone intentionally killed this defenseless endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal as she lay resting on the beach they did so with complete disregard for regulations and the reasons behind them.

This is an egregious crime against wildlife, and is particularly reprehensible when it involves an endangered species struggling to make a comeback. We must work together to ensure any and all who were involved are held fully accountable”

“We are deeply saddened by the cruel and senseless killings of precious monk seals,” said Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawai’i (CCH). “For our own sake and the good of the planet, we must learn to coexist with other species that share our island home.  If you know anything about any of these killings, please speak up.” CCH is a membership non-profit dedicated to protecting native Hawaiian plants, animals, and ecosystems.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization. Dr. Loyal Mehrhoff is the organization’s Honolulu-based endangered species recovery director. “Monk seals are still highly endangered and a very special species,” Mehrhoff said. “It is important to protect our seals from malicious acts.”

Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawai‘i – a native species found nowhere else in the world. The species is critically endangered with an estimated 1,400 remaining in the wild.

Anyone with information about these deaths should call the NOAA OLE hotline at

1-800-853-1964 or the statewide DOCARE hotline at 1-855-DLNR-TIP or 643-DLNR (3567).

Suspicious Death of Endangered Monk Seal Under Investigation

An oft-spotted, fifteen-year-old endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal, known as R4DP was found dead on a beach near ʻEleʻele on February 23, 2017. Officers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) and from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are investigating the female seal’s death as suspicious, as it had injuries “inconsistent with any natural cause of death associated with wild monk seals.”

Jeff Walters with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Regional Office explained, “Although we’re waiting for final laboratory analysis, the preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy) on R4DP indicates this seal was in good health with no apparent disease or natural cause of death.”

This is the 11th monk seal since 2009 found dead under suspicious circumstances. That means law enforcement authorities have good reason to suspect one or more people were directly involved and their activities were unauthorized or illegal.  Monk seal deaths due to interactions with fishing activities are considered in a different category, and the death of R4DP does not appear to be for this reason.  NMFS maintains records of all known Hawaiian monk seals.

Hawai‘i’s native seals, numbering around 1400 left in the wild, are protected under both the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act and by state law. Violations under any of these laws can be charged either in criminal or civil court, with criminal convictions under the ESA carrying fines as high as $50,000, or imprisonment for up to a year, or both.  DOCARE Enforcement Chief, Robert Farrell said, “We can’t comment further on the specifics of this or previous open cases that are still under investigation, but we can assure people that both state and federal law enforcement officers continue to aggressively and thoroughly investigate these deaths in hopes of bringing the person or persons responsible to justice.”

This is the first reported suspicious death of a monk seal since 2014, when there was one death on O‘ahu and one on Kaua‘i, with both seals showing signs of significant trauma. A man was convicted of killing a seal on Kaua‘i in 2009.

“Hawaiian monk seals are precious to our state both naturally and culturally,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  “It’s beyond comprehension that anyone could even consider beating or killing one of these rare mammals, as they’re resting or sleeping on a beach,” Case added.

Like with many monk seals around the state, R4DP was familiar to researchers and scientists.  She was tagged as a young adult seal on Kaua‘i in the summer of 2008. Ten days later she was flown to O‘ahu for a health examination after it was believed she may have ingested a hook.

X-rays didn’t reveal anything, so she was returned to Kaua‘i and released.

Anyone with information related to the death of R4DP or any other monk seal is encouraged to call the NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DLNR/DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR (808-873-3990).