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Work continues to keep Kauai seabirds off power lines

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LIHUE, Hawaii >> Kauai utility officials are installing glow-in-the-dark devices to prevent endangered nocturnal seabirds from crashing into power lines.

The diverters help Newell’s shearwater, Hawaiian petrel and band-rumped storm petrel avoid power lines after dark.

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

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative installed diverters on 109 power line spans last year and expects to install diverters on another 628 spans by the end of 2021, The Garden Island reported Monday.

The cooperative said it is using reflective diverters that glow in the dark near residential areas, commercial districts and public roads. In remote areas, it’s using LED diverters that charge via a solar panel during the day to produce light that’s visible to birds at night.

“Many of the installations will occur in remote areas that won’t be visible to residents,” said utility spokeswoman Beth Tokioka. “For any installations near residences, we’re contacting these members directly by mail prior to the scheduled work.”

Bird diverters are estimated to be 40% to 90% effective in minimizing power-line collisions, depending on type and location, according to Tokioka. Data is still being collected, she said.

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