Agency drafts conservation plan to protect Hawaii seabirds

Agency drafts conservation plan to protect Hawaii seabirds
File photo of the endangered Shearwater species (Source: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources)

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized the first draft of a plan to protect threatened and endangered bird species on Kauai.

The Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan outlines steps being taken to minimize light pollution and other dangers to seabirds on the island, The Garden Island reported Tuesday.

The plan was developed to address how attraction to light to listed seabirds on the island.

The Kauai plan focuses on threatened Newell’s shearwater, endangered Hawaiian petrel and the endangered Hawaii distinct population of the band-rumped storm-petrel.

Kauai is considered an important breeding habitat for all of the species.

Light attraction causes young birds to circle lights and eventually fall to the ground while flying from their burrows on land to the sea. Many grounded birds are unable to return to the air and become prey, starve or are hit by vehicles.

Friday night football games on Kauai were banned from 2010 to 2018 because of the effects of stadium lights on the birds. Shielded lights were installed at Vidinha Stadium in Lihue and evening games are now allowed during specific times.

A draft environmental assessment and the habitat conservation plan are available for public review and comment through April 13.

The permits applications are for 30-year terms.

Under the Endangered Species Act, habitat conservation plans are voluntary agreements between the Fish and Wildlife Service and landowners, private companies or non-federal agencies to minimize or offset harmful effects on threatened and endangered species.

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