Big Island resident faces charges for harassment of Hawaiian monk seal by his dog
The 52-year-old owner of a dog captured on videotape harassing a Hawaiian monk seal at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Kona on Oct. 10 was cited Tuesday by state and federal agencies.
Law enforcement agencies are not identifying the individual involved due to past cases in which people cited for seal harassment received multiple death threats via social media.
Authorities said the man recently moved to Hawai‘i from the mainland.
A witness videotaped the dog running up to and barking at the seal, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act. It took authorities several weeks to find the dog’s owner.
The man was cited by three agencies.
- DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement:
- Take, harassment of endangered and threatened species under State law
- Permitting a dog to stray (no leash) under Hawai‘i County Code
- National Park Service law enforcement:
- Failure to restrain a pet (dog off leash)
- Disturbing of wildlife activities
- NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement:
- Violation of the federal Endangered Species Act
For the State and Hawai‘i County charges the man has a court appearance scheduled in Kona District Court on Jan. 26, 2023.
On the National Park Service petty misdemeanor charges he can pay fines of $80 and $130 respectively, for the two violations, to avoid going to court.
For NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, charges are civil in nature, and penalties will be assessed, or determined, in accordance with NOAA’s Penalty Policy.
The law enforcement agencies caution that resting monk seals are powerful animals and could easily hurt or kill an off-leash dog.
“Not to mention, monk seals are protected by a multitude of state and federal laws, as this individual learned,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said.
Anyone who spots wildlife harassment is asked to report it to the 24-hour DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app. Videos and photographs are helpful to authorities in identifying suspects.