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December 12, 2014

Groups Seek Public’s Help to Protect Hawaiian Monk Seals

LIHU‘E, KAUA‘I– Following the Nov. 30 illegal killing of a Hawaiian monk seal on the Northeast coast of Kaua‘i, animal welfare and conversation groups are seeking the public’s help to protect the island’s monk seals. The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Monk Seal Foundation are offering $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. The Garden Island newspaper has offered to match this reward.

Patrick Wardell, president of the Monk Seal Foundation, said: “Hawaiian monk seals belong to all of us and to these islands. If we’re going to give them a safe home, this is the time for nonprofits, government agencies and community members to stand together. These senseless deaths are heartbreaking but we can’t let them stop us from putting these native seals on a better path toward hope and survival.”

Inga Gibson, Hawai‘i director for The Humane Society of the United States said, “The $10,000 reward for this latest heinous attack on a defenseless monk seal pup shows that the community demands justice and highly values these critically endangered animals.”

Community members and other organizations are encouraged to assist in these efforts by engaging in the following actions:

Print and distribute these reward posters. Anyone having information related to this latest, or past, illegal monk seal killings should call the NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement-HSUS confidential Tip line at 1-855-DLNR-TIP.

  • Share this video with friends and family and post on social media sites.
  • Join a Monk Seal Response Team and help to monitor beaches across Hawai‘i where monk seals are present. For more information click here.  
  • Host a community meeting to engage residents about the history and importance of Hawai‘i’s critically endangered monk seal.
  • Contact your local and state representatives to express your concerns about the tragic monk seal killings.
  • Financial contributions are needed to air public services announcements about the monk seal, to improve safety and security in areas where monk seals are present and to help fund Kaua‘i education efforts. Donations may be made online at monksealfoundation.org/kauai.

Monk Seal Facts:

  • The population of monk seals, Hawai‘i’s official state marine mammal, is estimated at less than 1,100 animals. Monk seals are endemic to Hawaii and can be found nowhere else in the world
  • In 2010, the state legislature enacted felony penalties for killing a monk seal, which carries a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 5 years in prison. Monk seals are also protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
  • There have been 5 killings of monk seals since 2009; three on Kaua‘i and two on Molokai. All of these cases remain under active investigation with standing rewards for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

For more information, contact:

The HSUS: Inga Gibson, igibson@humanesociety.org

Conservation Council for Hawai‘i: Marjorie Ziegler, mz@conservehi.org, 808-593-0255

Center for Biological Diversity: Miyoko Sakashita, miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org, 510-845-6703

Monk Seal Foundation: Patrick Wardell, pat@monksealfoundation.org, 808-268-6758


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