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For Immediate Release, January 11, 2012

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 632-5308

Reward Offered For Information on Killings of Rare Hawaiian Monk Seals

HONOLULU, Hawaii— The Center for Biological Diversity today joined with allies to offer a $30,000 reward for information about the recent killing of three critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Wildlife officials say two of the seals were bludgeoned to death and the third was shot. The death of a fourth seal is also being investigated as suspicious. Hawaiian monk seals are among the world’s rarest marine mammals. There are only 1,100 left, and their population is plummeting due to starvation and other factors.

“These senseless killings are really disturbing, especially for a species that’s already at the edge of extinction,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center. “Hawaii’s beaches and coasts should be a safe haven for wildlife.”

The Humane Society of the United States and officials in Hawaii have set up a tip line for information on the killings — 1-855-DLNR-TIP — and are working with law-enforcement agencies. Three monk seals were killed on Molokai and the fourth was found killed on Kauai. Necropsies on three of the seals confirmed that their deaths were suspicious, and the cause of the  fourth seal’s death is still under investigation.

The seal deaths come as more monk seals inhabit the main Hawaiian Islands, where their chance of survival is much greater than in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. That also means they’re in closer proximity to people — some of whom are apparently hostile.

“Hawaiian monk seals were found in these islands even before people, and its saddening to think that we could drive them to extinction,” Sakashita said.

Today’s reward was offered by the Humane Society of the United States, Conservation Council for Hawaii, Center for Biological Diversity, Marine Conservation Institute and an anonymous donor. The Center has been deeply involved in securing Endangered Species Act protections for Hawaiian monk seals, including with our successful 2008 petition, filed with allies, to protect their habitat along Hawaii’s beaches and in its coastal waters.

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