Hawaii Island man faces charges for monk seal harassment

  • A Big Island man has been cited for various offenses after his dog harassed a monk seal.

A 52-year-old Big Island man, who recently relocated to Hawaii from the mainland, was cited Tuesday by state and federal agencies after his dog was captured on videotape harassing a Hawaiian monk seal at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on Oct. 10.

Law enforcement agencies are not identifying the individual involved, due to past experience in which people cited for seal harassment received multiple death threats via social media, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.


A witness videotaped the dog running up on the seal and barking at it. It took several weeks for authorities to track the dog’s owner down.

The man was cited by various agencies for harassment of endangered and threatened species under state law, permitting a dog to stray with no leash, failure to restrain a dog, disturbing wildlife activities and violating the federal Endangered Species Act.

For the state and county charges, the man has a court appearance scheduled in Kona District Court on Jan. 26, 2023.

Some of the offenses are civil, 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,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said in a statement “monk seals are protected by a multitude of state and federal laws, as this individual learned.”

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.

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