Three state and federal agencies cited a man on Tuesday after a witness videoed his dog running towards and barking at a Hawaiian monk seal at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island in early October.

It took several weeks for law enforcement agencies to track down the 52-year-old man, who recently relocated to the Big Island from the mainland.

No further information identifying the dog owner will be provided, as people who have been cited for seal harassment in the past have received a multitude of death threats on social media, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The man was cited by the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement for harassment of endangered and threatened species and permitting his dog to stray off leash under Hawaii County Code, for which he has been scheduled to appear in Kona District Court in January 2023.

The National Park Service law enforcement also cited the man for his failure to restrain his pet, leading to the disturbance of wildlife activities. To avoid another trip to court, the man has the option to pay fines of $80 and $130 respectively, for the two violations.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement cited the man for the violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. Penalties will be later determined with NOAA’s Penalty Policy.

NOAA has researched and monitored monk seal population trends for almost 40 years, and though their estimates have shown the endangered species’ numbers have been on the rise, they ask that when encountering a monk seal, to keep a distance of at least 50 feet, or 150 feet for mothers with pups.

Law enforcement agencies warned that monk seals are powerful animals and could easily hurt or kill an off-leash dog, according to a news release Wednesday. Jason Redulla, the DOCARE chief, added that monk seals are protected by several state and federal laws, “as this individual learned.”

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