Animal Law

Could Seal Be Homicidal? Worried Officials Plan Ban of Growing Baby

A baby monk seal swimming around the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, seems to love people. But he could love them to death as he gets bigger, perhaps by playfully holding them underwater too long, officials fear.

So the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is making plans to move KP2 far, far away from the Kaunakakai Wharf he calls home, reports the Wall Street Journal. The 17-month-old seal now reportedly weighs around 170 pounds and was raised by humans after being abandoned by his mother and rescued by the NOAA.

Among those who had problems earlier while swimming in the vicinity of another overly friendly seal, RO42, was the actor William Shatner, the newspaper recounts.

Nonetheless, the plan to ban not-so-little KP2 is controversial—although, NOAA officials say, it is not up for debate.

“The seal poses a public safety risk to members of the Molokai community,” marine mammal specialist David Schofield of NOAA tells the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. “Some form of intervention will need to take place. It’s just the when and where we’re still discussing.”

Federal law protects the endangered, and it is illegal to harass, harm or pursue the animals. A buffer zone of at least 150 feet between humans and marine mammals is recommended, the Star-Bulletin says.

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