HONOLULU (KHON2) — An endangered Hawaiian monk seal was found dead from an intentional gunshot wound to the head on Moloka’i on Sept. 19.

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According to a postmortem analysis the young female, known as L11, suffered lethal trauma from a bullet fragment.

This is now the third intentional killing of a federally and state protected seal on Moloka’i this year. Both NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been actively investigating the deaths.

Angela Amlin from NOAA said, “this type of action is not broadly reflective of the Moloka’i community and their deep rooted traditions of marine resource stewardship.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case brought up the public’s response to when a visitor slapped a monk seal on the back.

“We trust the level of indignation we saw associated with that incident will be exceeded by the despicable shooting of seal L11 and the others taken by human hands,” said Case.

In April, two male monk seals were found deceased from blunt force trauma.  Both NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been actively investigating the deaths of these monk seals. 

Monk seals are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Killing a monk seal is a Class C felony that can result to 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $50,000.   

In a web posting today, NOAA stated that the quick response by Hawai’i Marine Animal Response and others, “ensured that L11’s carcass was collected promptly and preserved in fresh condition, which enhanced the quality of the postmortem analyses.”

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Anyone with information about deaths of Hawaiian monk seals can contact the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement hotline at 800-853-1964 or the DOCARE hotline at 808-643-DLNR (3567) or via the DLNRTip app.