Light pollution from certain street lights causing fatal attraction.
(WASHINGTON DC) - The Federal Government has warned the State of Hawai'i that it should either enter a plea agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or face criminal prosecution, including possible jail time, in connection with the deaths of a large number of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and other wildlife caused by the continued use of certain street lights that are attracting the wildlife and ultimately causing their deaths.
According to a January 2013 state government memo from Deputy Attorney General Laura Kim, on December 20, 2012, the DOJ notified the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) of a multi-year investigation of DOT lights that are causing unlawful take (killing) of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), as well as turtle and moth species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although DOJ stated that the investigation is statewide, the priority is on Oahu where DOJ claims a considerable number of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, which are protected by the MBTA, have been injured by DOT lights.
According to media reports in the Honolulu Civil Beat, since 2007, the DOT has required all new lighting projects to use full cutoff lens fixtures, which help reduce light pollution. These shielded lights protect certain seabirds that can become disoriented when flying, leading to their injury or death.
The state has installed roughly 1,800 of these lights along highways, Ala Moana Boulevard, and other roads. There are approximately 11,000 lights under DOT’s jurisdiction, according to DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter.