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Please help catch a coward

In 2014 on Kauai, a monk seal was found dead on the North Shore, showing signs of significant trauma. It did not die a natural death. It was found bludgeoned to death along a rocky beach in Anahola. This female Hawaiian monk seal pup was the same one that survived a deadly dog attack earlier that year. She was reportedly spotted perfectly healthy and behaving normally near her birthplace less than 24 hours prior to being found dead.

A $10,000 reward offered by The Garden Island for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons involved in the incident was not claimed. There were no arrests. There were no convictions.

Whoever did this cowardly act got away with it.

Now, a little more than two years later, here we are again.

A 15-year-old endangered Hawaiian monk seal, known as R4DP, was found dead on a beach near Eleele on Feb. 23. Investigators described the female seal’s death as suspicious, as it had injuries “inconsistent with any natural cause of death associated with wild monk seals.”

This monk seal was also reported to be in good health shortly before its death.

A group of organizations has stepped forward to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who may have participated in the death of R4DP.

This is the fifth time the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Council for Hawaii, Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust have offered rewards for monk seal deaths.

What this most likely means is that someone on Kauai killed another monk seal. That a person could kill such a creature, probably resting or sleeping on the beach, is truly sad. Such a person is a coward. We hope they are caught. Maybe, this time, someone witnessed something, though that is doubtful. Anyone who is cowardly enough to kill a resting monk seal is going to be sure to carry out such an act when there is no one around.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case put it nicely when she said: “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.”

There is no excuse to justify such an attack. None.

We wish it were a rare occurrence, but it is not.

This is the 11th monk seal since 2009 found dead under suspicious circumstances.

Another suspicious monk seal death occurred in April of 2012 on Kauai, when a 3-year-old male was discovered on a rocky part of the island’s northeastern shore.

A man was convicted of killing a seal on Kauai in 2009.

Law enforcement authorities have good reason to suspect one or more people were directly involved and their activities were unauthorized or illegal.

Hawaii’s native seals, numbering around 1,400 left in the wild, are precious to the state both naturally and culturally. They 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.

If anyone has information related to the death of R4DP or any other monk seal, you’re asked to call the NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DLNR-DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR (808-873-3990).

Please, help catch a coward.

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