Photos of mutilated turtle spark outrage, but no enforcement

A series of disturbing photos circulating on social media is sparking outrage by many in Hawaii.

The photos show two men posing with a mutilated turtle. KHON2 will not be posting the photos.

While the photos have people demanding prosecution, state officials say their hands are tied unless they receive more information, like whether or not the act actually took place in Hawaii.

“What people have to understand is I can’t just be angry about pictures from a department perspective, but I have to have proof to move forward with some enforcement,” said Department of Land and Natural Resources chair William Aila Jr.

“What I would recommend to anyone is if you have proof of a violation and you’re willing to come forward for this information, do so,” he added. “If you come up to us with proof, the department will surely follow through on any type of enforcement or action that occurs afterward.”

The following information is provided by the Department of Land and Natural Resources:

All sea turtles in Hawaii are protected under the Endangered Species Act and wildlife laws of the State of Hawaii. These laws prohibit harassing, capturing (possessing or removing), harming or killing sea turtles.

Under the Endangered Species Act, any person who knowingly violates any provision of the Act shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

Under state law, violation is a misdemeanor criminal offense, punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and/or 30 days in jail.

Research on sea turtles both in captivity and in the wild requires federal permits.

It is important to remember that sea turtles, both alive and dead are protected.

If you are lucky enough to see a sea turtle in the wild, do not attempt to touch or grab it. The recommended distance for observation of sea turtles in the wild is 50 yards.

Feeding, touching or attempting to ride them could cause distress. If you see them on the beach, please do not disturb them, turtles often haul out to rest.

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