Endangered Hawaiian monk seal found shot in the head on Molokai island

‘Someday posts like these will no longer need to be written,’ says wildlife body of the news

Gino Spocchia
Thursday 23 December 2021 14:35
<p>An endangered seal was shot dead </p>

An endangered seal was shot dead

An endangered monk seal that authorities in Hawaii found dead in September had been shot in the head, it has been revealed.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement on Tuesday that the young female seal had died of a gunshot would to its head.

She was found on a beach on Molokai, the fifth most populated of Hawaii’s eight islands, on  19 September and was identified thanks to a temporary bleach mark that was applied to her fur.

NOAA said the death of the endangered monk seal was the third such intentional killing in 2021 and the seventh in the past 10 years. Two others were killed by “blunt force trauma” on Molokai in April.

“These intentional killings of this endangered species is devastating to the recovery of this population,” the NOAA statement said.

“We are deeply saddened by this news, but will continue our work in the field, and by educating the public on this amazing species in hopes that someday posts like these will no longer need to be written,” it added.

The endangered seals are found nowhere else on Earth beyond Hawaii, where the population has fallen to the low hundreds on Hawaii’s main islands, and about 1,100 on a remote uninhabited northwestern Hawaiian island.

Killing the endangered species is a state and federal crime and the deaths are being investigated, NOAA said. The circumstances around a number of deaths meanwhile remain unconfirmed.

Monk seals are sometimes perceived as a nuisance or competition to people who are fishing for sustenance.

Suzanne Case, the chair of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, noted local outrage at visitors who harassed monk seals earlier this year and called for a similar response to the killing of the seal that was shot in the head.

“It is past time for anyone who has information on the killing of this seal and the others to step forward,” Ms Case said.

“Earlier this year many people were outraged when a visitor slapped a seal on the back, and we trust the level of indignation we saw associated with that incident will be exceeded by the despicable shooting of (this seal) and the others taken by human hands.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

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