Reward set for monk seal death info

HONOLULU (AP) — Federal wildlife officials are offering up to $20,000 for information regarding the deaths of two Hawaiian monk seals that occurred within two months of each other.

The first monk seal, a juvenile male identified as RL52, was found dead in September. The second seal, a juvenile female, was found dead in November, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday.

The Hawaiian monk seal is listed as endangered and is protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 from being killed, harmed, trapped, captured or harassed. Intentionally killing a monk seal is considered a felony under state law and can also be punished by federal law.

“The intentional killing of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal is a violation of federal law,” said Assistant Director Martina Sagapolu of OLE’s Pacific Islands Division in a statement. “It is our hope that this reward will encourage someone to provide us with the information needed to arrest and convict those who would commit such a heinous act.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement said it would give up to $20,000 if the information provided leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction.