Getting ahead a bad idea
FIRST of all, I want to go on the record as saying I don't think it's a good thing to cut the head off of a dead seal. Cutting the head off any dead animal probably isn't a good idea unless you are a professional and the decapitation is one of your assigned duties.
As a lover of cheeseburgers, I suppose someone is in charge of cutting the heads off cows to get at the tasty cheeseburger filets. Maybe not. OK. That's not a good example. Anyway, let's all agree, cutting off heads: bad.
But is it illegal? Kauai beach camper ("beach camper" sounds better than "sand bum") Justin Freemon cut the head off a dead monk seal recently and was arrested for it. If convicted, he could do a year in jail.
MONK SEALS are a protected species. You aren't supposed to mess with them in any way, including killing them. That's why whenever a monk seal waddles ashore in Hawaii, even in the middle of Waikiki, it's immediately roped off with yellow "CSI"-kine crime-scene tape. Otherwise, everyone would want to touch it, pose for pictures with it or poke it in the eye with a chopstick. (You know kids!)
Until Freemon was charged with misdemeanor postmortem decapitation, I didn't realize that dead monk seals also are protected by endangered-species laws. I mean, once the animal is dead, you'd think there's technically nothing really to protect.
BY ALL accounts (well, one account: Freemon's) the monk seal he beheaded had been dead for some time. The seal might have died of natural causes. Even endangered species die of natural causes.
He claims he wanted to save the head for scientific study. He didn't eat it or anything, like the Inuits of Alaska do. (Actual Inuit seal head recipe: "Skin the seal. Cut the head from the seal. Cut the head into as small pieces as you can. Put into a pot of water, add salt. Boil plenty. When cooked, eat the meat. Break the skull and eat the inside of it, too.")
In the picture of Freemon in the newspaper, he didn't look Inuit. So, I guess his legal goose is cooked, so to speak. He can't claim any cultural right to claim dead seals for food and/or scientific research. The lesson: Don't cut the heads off of things even if they are already dead.
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