September 28, 2012
Agencies urge public to report information
In response to recent reports of illegal sea turtle killings on Maui and the discovery of shells and gear believed to be used to drown the turtles, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust urge Hawaii residents to report any information on these killings. Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500 from the groups for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for these crimes.
“The Humane Society of the United States and the Department of Land and Natural Resources launched our tipline to stop crimes against Hawaii’s precious wildlife and to create a mechanism for the community to confidentially report criminal activity,” said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS. “We encourage anyone with information about these or other illegal sea turtle killings to immediately report such information to authorities.”
In May, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service reminded the community that sea turtles remain protected under state and federal laws. Under state law, sea turtles are protected by the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (Chapter 195D) and Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (13-124). DLNR Chairman William Aila also clarified that even though a petition for de-listing was filed, filing alone does not affect nor negate the protected status of these animals. He further urged the public to act responsibly and not attempt to touch, disturb, feed, pursue, ride, harass, harm or otherwise injure these animals.
“The Maui Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement continues to work with its federal partner agencies in investigating the killing of these sea turtles. We are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information to enable us take law enforcement action against the perpetrators of these crimes,” said Clarence Yamamoto, Maui DOCARE Branch Chief.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa stated, “We have rules protecting our endangered species in Maui County. This kind of blatant disregard for both state and federal law is inexcusable and cruel. These are serious crimes.”
- In January of this year, The HSUS funded the development of a confidential, toll-free tipline for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement to report information on wildlife crimes.
- To date, tipline-reward postings have also been offered for the illegal killing of four monk seals, two each on Kauai and Molokai, and the illegal transport and release of deer onto the Big Island.
- Five species of turtles, including the critically endangered hawksbill and threatened green sea who often co-exist in the same areas, along with the loggerhead, leatherback and olive ridley, are all protected under both state and federal law. The survival of all of these species is threatened by habitat loss, climate change, commercial fisheries by-catch, entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, and illegal poaching.
- It is illegal to harm, injure, kill or harass sea turtles. Under state law, killing a sea turtle may carry a fine up of to $10,000 and up to one year in jail or both, and administrative fines. Under the federal Endangered Species Act, killing a turtle may result in fines exceeding $3500 and up to one year in jail or both.
Anyone with information on the illegal killing of sea turtles is asked to call the HSUS/DLNR reward tipline at 1-855-DLNR-TIP or the USFWS Enforcement hotline at 1-808-861-8525. Stranded and entangled sea turtles should be reported immediately to NOAA at 808-983-5730.
For more information on The HSUS/DLNR reward tipline visit humanesociety.org/hawaii_rewards.
Media note – photos available upon request.
The Humane Society of the United States: Kaitlin Sanderson, 301-721-6463; firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources: Laura Stevens, 808-587-0320; Laura.A.Stevens@hawaii.gov
Article source: HSUS