Conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the state today claiming it’s failing to address the harm to imperiled seabirds caused by bright lighting at its facilities in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Earthjustice said in a press release that the state Department of Transportation has failed to address injuries and deaths of three species of seabirds — the threatened Newell’s shearwater and the endangered Hawaiian petrels and band-rumped storm petrels — at state-operated airports and harbors on Kauai, Maui and Lanai.
The seabirds are attracted to the bright lights, but become disoriented and circle around them, then fall to the ground from exhaustion or crash into nearby buildings.
Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm, filed the suit on behalf of conservation groups Hui Ho‘omalu i Ka ‘Aina, the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i and Center for Biological Diversity following a breakdown in discussions last October with federal and state wildlife agencies over an islandwide habitat conservation plan on Kauai.
“It is incredibly saddening to know how endangered these seabirds have become,” said Marjorie Ziegler of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i. “They are integral parts of our island ecosystem and native Hawaiian culture. We hope this lawsuit will finally spur our government to take the necessary steps to protect them.”