4 years in prison for harassing pregnant Hawaiian monk seal

This photo provided by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety shows Shylo Kaena Akuna. A judge sentenced Akuna, a Hawaii man, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, to four years in prison for harassing a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal last year, Kauai Prosecuting Attorney said. (Hawaii Department of Public Safety via AP)

HONOLULU — A judge on Wednesday sentenced a Hawaii man to four years in prison for harassing a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal.

Hawaiian monk seals are among the world's most critically endangered marine mammals. There are about 1,400 in the wild.

Shylo Kaena Akuna harassed the seal in April 2016 at Kauai's Salt Pond Beach Park, said Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.

KHON-TV reported previously that bystanders recorded video showing a man wading into the water, swinging at the endangered animal and possibly throwing sand at it.

"Akuna was apparently highly intoxicated at the time," Kollar said in a statement. "Animal abuse is often a precursor to other types of violence and cannot be tolerated in our community."

The seal gave birth to a female pup about a week after the incident, Kollar said.

Akuna was sentenced to a year in jail last month for the unrelated theft and slaughter of a goat. He also faces charges on another unrelated case involving an alleged March burglary of a room at the Poipu Grand Hyatt hotel.

Akuna's defense attorney, Mark Zenger, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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