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Posted: Friday, February 27th, 2009 4:41 AM HST

Big Island monk seal to be moved away from humans

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — A human-loving female monk seal that frequented the Big Island will be relocated to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Federal scientists say the two-year-old, 300-pound seal could lose her natural ability to forage and fend for herself if she continued to frolic among humans who feed her.

According to the federal Fisheries Service, the seal had been relocated four times before. Each time, "R042," as she is known, made her way back to her old haunts on the Big Island.

Now, she is temporarily housed at a secured beach area of Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. The Coast Guard will transport her to her new home.

Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species. Only about 1,100 to 1,200 exist and their population is declining about 4 percent each year.

(Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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