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Not seeing the light: the US Air Force to reduce light pollution to save threatened Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters

The United States Air Force will reduce light pollution at its radar-tracking Kōke‘e Air Force Station facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to reduce deaths to globally Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrels Pterodroma sandwichensis, Endangered Newell’s Shearwaters Puffinus newelli and Band-rumped Storm Petrels Hydrobates castro.

The Kōke‘e Air Force Station caused the death or downing of more than 130 petrels and shearwaters  in 2015 (click here).

“The new Air Force procedures are expected to reduce the downing or “take” of seabirds to approximately four birds per year. To offset these losses, the Air Force also agreed to fund predator control at existing seabird colonies.”

 

Hawaiian Petrel

Newell's Shearwater, photograph by Eric Vanderwerf

“The 2015 event at the Kōke‘e Air Force Station was … especially damaging because most of the protected seabirds that were killed or downed were adult Newell’s shearwaters and Hawaiian petrels, birds that take six years to reach reproductive age.  Seabirds in Hawaii are primarily threatened by introduced predators like cats, rats, pigs and barn owls, as well as by fatal collisions with power lines and downing associated with night-time lights.”

Read more here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 March 2017