Two years after admitting to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act by killing Newell's shearwaters through its lighting policies at county facilities, Kauai County is still working to meet requirements of a plea agreement with the Justice Department.
The retrofitting of light fixtures at Kauai County's park facilities and buildings is ongoing, county officials said.
Young Newell's shearwaters follow the lights from the moon and stars while they fly out to sea during the fledgling season from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15. Bright lights from stadiums and other facilities were disorienting the birds and causing them to circle around artificial lights,said Scott Fretz, former state wildlife program manager who currently serves as wildlife and forestry district manager of the Maui/Molokai Branch.
The shearwaters would fly around until they were exhausted and fell to the ground, where they were preyed upon by cats and dogs or struck by vehicles.
In 1975, Newell's shearwaters were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. About 90 percent of the seabirds breed on Kauai.
In the mid-1990s, the population was estimated at 80,000. But in recent years, the number of shearwaters has plummeted by 75 percent.
Kauai County paid a $15,000 fine and agreed to a series of corrective measures that were to be taken during a 30-month probation period after the agreement with the Justice Department. An audit of all county facilities was to be conducted along with creating plans to minimize harm to seabirds during the fledgling season.
The county is required to maintain a record of dead, injured or sick birds.
No downed birds have been reported at county facilities since the start of the probation period, according to county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.