DLNR’s message after Maui visitor is cited for lifting sea turtle out of water: Ignorance of the law is not a defense

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A 60-year-old man visiting from Georgia was cited for lifting a sea turtle out of the water by its shell last week.

He told DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) officers he didn’t know his actions were against the law and that he “was very sorry.”

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On Aug. 17, witnesses reported the incident via the DLNRTipp app with photos and video. The man and his son told officers that a turtle swam toward them. The father briefly picked up the turtle, and when people yelled at him, he put it back in the water.

He was cited under Hawai‘i Administrative Rules for prohibited activities. DLNR said the case was also referred to federal authorities since turtles are protected under both federal and state laws. 

“DLNR, county and federal partners, the private sector and volunteer organizations continue to use all available outreach methods and platforms to try and reach every visitor to Hawai‘i,” said DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla. “Unfortunately, we can’t reach every single person who encounters a turtle or other marine wildlife and hope that people will use their common sense and show respect to these creatures. Ignorance of the law has never been a good defense,” he added.  

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Anyone who witnesses wildlife harassment is encouraged to call the 24-hour DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR (3-5-6-7) or report suspected violations via the free DLNRTip app.

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