Kauai lighting plan will protect birds and allow football

HONOLULU — A plan to minimize the effects of strobe lights on endangered seabirds will allow at least three Friday night football games on Kauai this fall, a report said.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami approved an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the County of Kauai, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

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The Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan calls for monitoring and reporting downed seabirds during games in exchange for allowing stadium lights during high school football games Sept. 27 and Oct. 4.

Many birds have mistaken stadium lights for the moon and stars, which they use to navigate out to sea. This causes them to circle the lights and eventually fall to the ground from exhaustion before being attacked by cats or run over by cars, officials said.

Teams have been required to play during the day from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15, when the island’s young seabirds take their first flights, officials said.

After the county was fined $15,000 in 2010 for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and required to pay $180,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Friday night games ended on Kauai. Night games resumed when four were held during the 2017 football season.

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Kauai County is helping to finalize the plan to “mitigate the effects of light attraction” and define conservation goals with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, officials said.

“We are committed to bringing back a long-standing national tradition of Friday Night Lights” while also ensuring protection of the environment, Kawakami said.

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