Attempt To Lethally Remove Aggressive Monk Seal on Kure Atoll Unsuccessful

August 23, 2011

NOAA Fisheries Service reports that plans to lethally remove adult male monk seals responsible for injuring seal pups and juveniles on Kure Atoll were unsuccessful.

Upon arrival at Kure on August 5th, a team of researchers, scientists and a veterinarian searched for the most aggressive seal (known by his ID number as KE18) for 7 days while conducting monk seal counts and demobilizing summer field camps. Although KE18 was spotted three times, he never presented himself in a place that would allow the team to safely euthanize him.

Prior to arrival and continuing while at Kure, the NOAA team reassessed the behavior of another aggressive seal (KO42) and determined that he did not meet the criteria for removal at this time. Consequently, they focused their efforts on the lethal removal of KE18, the older of the two animals who had been engaged in the aberrant and hyper-aggressive behavior of mounting, biting and drowning pups and juveniles during two field seasons. The violent behavior escalated dramatically this field season.

USFWS and NMFS staff were also monitoring seals at Midway in case KE18 appeared at the neighboring atoll.

As of Sunday, August 21 all NOAA Fisheries personnel have returned to Honolulu. Discussions will begin shortly to analyze data and determine available options.

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