Hawaii residents fined $20K after Hawaiian monk seal pup mauled by unleashed dogs

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Hawaii residents were fined $20,000 for their alleged roles in the fatal mauling of a female Hawaiian monk seal pup by unleashed dogs, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species. Only 1,600 remain in the wild. The loss of a female is a particularly hard blow to conservation efforts because she could have grown up to give birth to pups of her own.

A necropsy by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found the pup known as PO7 suffered puncture wounds consistent with dog bites and hemorrhaging consistent with being shaken by a dog.

NOAA's Office of General Counsel issued the fine on June 11, which didn't say how the two individuals were allegedly connected to the unleashed dogs.

Stefanie Gutierrez, a spokesperson for NOAA Fisheries, said further details were unavailable because “enforcement proceedings were ongoing.” The accused were fined $20,000 jointly.

The pup was born to a seal known as RN58 or Luana. She was seen with her mother for the first time on May 23 on Oahu's North Shore and reported to be a dog attack victim that same evening.

Those fined have the right to challenge the penalty and request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said one of the two individuals was a state parks employee who wasn't on duty. She reported the pup death to her agency, department spokesperson Dan Dennison said.

The department has started its own investigation into potential violations of state and county laws, he said.

Phone numbers for the accused could not immediately be found.

Audrey Mcavoy, The Associated Press