Shooting death of endangered monk seal leads to hunt for person responsible

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and NOAA are seeking information regarding the death of a monk seal who was shot on Molokai in September.
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 6:37 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 7:25 PM HST
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MOLOKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal and state agencies have launched investigations after a Hawaiian Monk Seal was found shot and killed on Molokai.

The young female, known as L11, was found on a beach on the island’s southwest shore back in September with a gunshot wound to her head.

An investigation revealed her death was intentional.

“These intentional killings are evil, despicable acts perpetrated against an endangered animal in its own natural habitat. Those responsible must be held accountable,” said Jason Redulla, Chief of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE).

L11 was born last year on the Friendly Isle.

“We’re deeply saddened to have this news, and this is absolutely inconsistent with our goals for monk seal recovery,” said Angela Amlin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator.

Monk seals are native to Hawaii and are endangered.

Amlin said there are only about 1,400 of them left and about 300 of those are in the main Hawaiian Islands.

Officials say this marks the third confirmed intentional killing of a Hawaiian Monk Seal on Molokai this year. The others died from blunt force trauma.

“This is happening way too often,” said Molokai resident and Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte.

Ritte is appalled and said he thinks the deaths may be linked to a fight over fish.

“I get really angry when the fishermen tell us that the seals are interfering in their fishing,” Ritte said. “The seals belong to the realm of Kanaloa, of the ocean, that’s their realm, we’re interfering in their realm.”

Ritte is calling on his community to do better.

“I’m pissed off,” he said. “We’re gonna try and find out who the heck is doing this.”

Officials said there may be a reward for information leading to an arrest.

“The fact of the matter is we don’t have a whole lot of information. That’s why we’re making the plea now,” said Redulla.

Those who have information may call (800) 853-1964. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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