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DLNR News Release: Ignorance of the law is not a defense – Maui visitor cited after lifting sea turtle out of the water

Posted on Aug 24, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(Kahului, Maui) – A 60-year-old Georgia man, visiting Ka‘anapali, said he “was very sorry” for lifting a sea turtle out of the water by its shell, last week. He told DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) officers he didn’t know his actions were against the law.

Witnesses reported the Tuesday, August 17 incident via the DLNRTip app and provided photos and video of the man and his son in shallow water. The pair told officers a turtle swam toward them. The father picked it up briefly and when people yelled at him, he put it back in the water.

“DLNR,  county and federal partners, the private sector and volunteer organizations continue to use all available outreach methods and platforms to try and reach every visitor to Hawai‘i,” said DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla. “Unfortunately, we can’t reach every single person who encounters a turtle or other marine wildlife and hope that people will use their common sense and show respect to these creatures. Ignorance of the law has never been a good defense,” he added.

The man was cited under Hawai‘i Administrative Rules for prohibited activities. The case was also referred to federal authorities as turtles are protected under both federal and state laws.

Anyone who witnesses wildlife harassment is encouraged to call the 24-hour DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR (3-5-6-7) or report suspected violations via the free DLNRTip app.

Photos and videos, as we’re provided in this case, are extremely helpful to investigators.

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