In an effort to help protect endangered and threatened seabirds, the U.S. Air Force will reduce lighting on a radar facility on the island of Kauai. Following the decision, the Center for Biological Diversity announced that it would withdraw a notice of intent to sue over the deaths of 130 seabirds in 2015.
According to US News, the Air Force has made several efforts to reduce the impact the lights have on the sensitive bird species — species such as Hawaiian Petrels, Band-rumped Storm Petrels, and Newell’s Shearwaters.
Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters take six-years to reach reproductive age. So when 130 birds were downed by the lights on the Kōke‘e mountaintop radar facility, and the majority were adults, the lights became an even larger cause for concern. It isn’t just the adult birds that are impacted by the lights, fledglings are too.
These three species of seabirds lay a single egg every year in the hillsides of Kauai’s mountains — a single egg. When the young birds fledge, they find their way to the ocean by flying downhill. These young birds become distracted by lights which causes them to become exhausted leading them to crash into buildings, or into the ground — many do not recover. The birds either die on impact, or they are killed by cats or cars after impact.
The Center for Biological Diversity in statement wrote:
The Center filed its legal notice in June 2016 after lights at the Kōke‘e Air Force Station caused the death or fallout of more than 130 of the endangered seabirds in 2015. In response the Air Force re-initiated consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and agreed to reduce lighting at the facility that disorients the seabirds, causing them to circle and eventually drop out of the sky with exhaustion.
Save Our Shearwaters (SOS) is a program with several drop-off locations for downed birds on the island of Kauai. You can learn more about the SOS program here.
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