Help this newspaper find justice

A newspaper’s job is to report the news. People like Dennis Fujimoto of The Garden Island interview people, take pictures and write stories. From parades to council meetings to craft fairs to football games, we do our best to be there. A newspaper should reflect what is happening in its community. It should be an active and engaged member of the community, out and about as much as possible.

Sometimes, though, a newspaper needs to do more. It needs to step beyond its usual duties of reporting the news. The death of a Hawaiian monk seal pup is such a time. We, at The Garden Island, feel a responsibility to help protect and improve the communities we live in and protect our precious island resources. It’s what led us to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing a monk seal pup Nov. 30 on an Anahola beach. Along with a $10,000 award offered by the Humane Society of the United States, Conservation Council of Hawaii, Center for Biological Diversity and the Monk Seal Foundation, that brings the total to $20,000 for information that leads to those responsible for brutally killing a monk seal pup by bashing its head as it rested.

This monk seal pup and its mother were among four seals that survived a dog attack in July. A two-week-old female pup wasn’t so lucky in that incident.

It’s not usually a newspaper’s duty to take the lead in offering reward money for information that leads to an arrest, but in this case, we want justice. A deep respect for the natural world and environment is deeply rooted in the Hawaiian culture and we seek to help perpetuate that respect.

The Garden Island simply wants to make it clear that violent acts against wildlife will not be tolerated. Under Hawaii law, it is a Class C felony to kill a monk seal, punishable by fines of up to $50,000 and five years in prison. It also is a federal crime to kill or harm a Hawaiian monk seal and convictions can result in additional fines and jail time. We’re betting someone out there knows something and with a little encouragement, they will step forward.

Some might think, “What’s the big deal? It was one monk seal pup, right? Aren’t there more of them? And they really don’t belong here, do they?”

Well, sadly, there aren’t many of them. About 200 are in the waters of the main Hawaiian Islands. And, yes, they do belong here, just as much as we do. But regardless of numbers or whether they’re native to these waters, killing a monk seal pup is wrong. We said it once and we’ll say it again — the person that committed this brutal act on a peaceful creature is a coward. We hope they are brought to justice.

These kinds of heinous and senseless acts against defenseless wildlife have no place in Hawaii, or anywhere for that matter. Including this latest monk seal death on Kauai, there have been five suspicious deaths of monk seals since 2011 — three on Kauai and two on Molokai.

There also are rewards offered for the arrests and convictions of those responsible for those deaths. We have sadly had to report on too many of these incidents of human violence against wildlife.

We hope we don’t have to write about these senseless killings again.

Meantime, we are proud to stand with the Humane Society of the United States, the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Monk Seal Foundation.

Anyone with information related to the female monk seal death on Kauai — or any of the other monk seal fatalities — should call the NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 1-800-DLNR-TIP or 643-DLNR.

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