Brutal slaughter of albatross colony earns NYU student jail time
Using a machete, a bat, and a pellet gun, the three students involved beat 15 of the birds to death, destroyed 17 of their nests, and smashed 11 of their eggs. They also cut the feet off some of the birds, and threw their bodies off a cliff into the sea.
HONOLULU, HAWAII — A 19-year-old student has been sentenced jail time following his involvement in the brutal slaughter of a protected albatross population nearly two years ago.
On December 27, 2015 on a camping trip, Christian Gutierrez and two other Punahou School students hiked to Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve, carrying a machete, a bat, and a pellet gun. They were heading to a Laysan albatross colony, which has long been protected by the federal government as part of a 26-year conservation effort.
Using their weapons, the teens beat 15 of the birds to death, destroyed 17 of their nests, and smashed 11 of their eggs. Adding to the depravity of the killings, the teens were also accused of cutting the feet off many of the birds so they could retrieve I.D. bands for souvenirs. Those birds were then tied together, and thrown over a cliff into the ocean. This feathered massacre is expected to set conservation efforts back by a decade.
The two others involved were 17 at the time, so their punishments will be handed out in juvenile court. But as Gutierrez was 18, he became the face of the savage crimes, even though he claims he was peer pressured into taking part. During his sentencing, a stuffed albatross was kept on the prosecution table, to remind everyone of the lives most affected.
With an average seven-foot wingspan, the laysan albatross are seen as guardian spirits by natives of Hawaii. Prosecutors explained they are “peaceful and trusting birds who do not recognize predators.”
Gutierrez will serve his jail time immediately, and hopes to resume his studies at NYU upon his release.
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