Hawaii seeing outbreak of endangered seal killings

By AUDREY McAVOY | January 7, 2012 | 1:10 PM EST

HONOLULU (AP) — Three, possibly four, critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals have been deliberately killed in Hawaii in the past two months.

No one knows who is killing the seals or why. But the deaths are coming as the federal government steps up its efforts to protect the seals, leading to simmering resentment among some fishermen who fear new regulations will trample upon their right to fish.

The killings are also happening as the misguided notion spreads that the animals aren't native to Hawaii and don't belong here.

Walter Ritte is a Molokai resident and longtime activist who has sounded an alarm about the killings. He says the negative attitude toward the seals has overpowered the concern the species is endangered and on the verge of becoming extinct.