Friday night games on Kauai to move for fledgling season

  • Staff members with Pacific Rim Conservation measure a Newell's shearwater chick, one of 18 that were transported in mid-September to a predator-proof breeding colony at Nihoku Crater in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai. (Andre Raine/courtesy of Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project)

LIHUE — Friday night lights will shine for high school football games on Kauai through September, but the games will move to Saturday afternoons during the rest of a seabird’s fledgling season.

Stadiums lights can create obstacles for endangered Newell’s shearwater fledglings, which are attracted to bright lights as they leave mountain nesting sites on the island for the ocean, The Garden Island reported Monday.

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The young birds native to Kauai typically use the moon for guidance, but can become fixated on stadium lights, circling the lights until they fall. Once on the ground, the birds can become disoriented and are subject to other threats, like predators and cars.

Kauai County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have worked for several years to find a way to allow Friday night games while minimizing the risk to the seabirds, said Dan Dennison, a spokesman with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“We developed a risk calculator for the county and USFWS that considered the proposed time of each potential game relative to the fledgling season, the phase of the moon and the time that the moon rises on that particular night,” Dennison said. “Considering all this data, night games on the last three weekends of September were considered low risk. Night games in October and November were considered high risk.”

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The fledgling season runs through mid-December.

“They are also a vital contributor to the environment of our island, transporting marine nutrients from the sea where they feed to the top of our watersheds where they breed,” Dennison said. “By working with the county and our partners at USFWS on this issue, we hope that we can both protect our endangered seabirds and continue to enjoy some night football games.”

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