Federal authorities say a dog attack killed a two-week old Hawaiian monk seal pup and injured four other seals on Kauai.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday the seals were inside a fenced protection zone at a remote beach on Kauai's north shore. NOAA says one or more dogs got around the fence to attack the animals.
A necropsy determined a dog bite most likely killed the 50-pound pup.
The pup's mother had puncture wounds on her muzzle, indicating she may have been injured while attempting to protect her offspring.
NOAA says another mother-pup pair and a weaned seal also showed puncture wounds consistent with a dog attack. Officials don't believe these wounds are life-threatening.
When the first crew came in the next morning there was one of the mothers over its pup and it was motionless. The mother was vocalizing, guarding its pup and calling out to it, but getting no response. Sometime in the course of the night the pup had died,” said T. David Schofield, Jr. of the NOAA Marine Mammal Health Division.
This is the first time a seal has been killed by dog, but there have been other attacks in the past.
Dog owners have even been prosecuted when their pets injured monk seals which are endangered species.
No word on whether the dog or dogs were pets or feral, but now the seal pups are being guarded at night to make sure they are not harmed.
If you have any information on the attack, call the Marine Mammal Hotline at (888) 256-9840.
Click here to see a photo of the injury. Please be advised this is a graphic image.