- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - The U.S. Air Force is working to resolve a lighting issue at its Kokee Air Force Station that is causing endangered and threatened birds to fall from the sky.

More than 126 birds have fallen around the 10-acre station, 10 of which have died, according to the Garden Island (https://bit.ly/1KpwgVk). Most of the injured birds are Newell’s shearwaters, which are listed as a threatened species. Endangered Hawaiian petrels have also been affected.

More than 10 birds fell this weekend, which comes after 80 birds fell over the course of days last week.

The Kokee Air Force Station provides 24-hour radar air surveillance to the Hawaii Regional Operations Control Center and is operated by the Hawaii Air National Guard and maintained by the PACAF Regional Support Center.

“We are greatly concerned about the Newell’s shearwaters at Mt. Kokee Air Force Station,” Col. Frank Flores, PACAF Regional Support Center commander, said in a statement. “We care about their safety and have partnered with U. S. Fish and Wildlife Services to better protect this threatened species.”

Officials say the problem is likely caused by misdirected lights combined with foggy weather. Shearwaters fly over land at night and can become distracted by lights, causing them to hit objects or fly until exhaustion.

The fallen birds are being treated at the Kauai Humane Society, which runs a Save Our Shearwater program.

“It’s slowed down, which is wonderful for many, many different reasons, not just us, but for the birds,” said Tracy Anderson, SOS program coordinator.

Air Force spokeswoman Anastasia Wasem, who is stationed in Alaska, said they are trying to find the cause of the sudden rash of falls. She said it is unclear why the lights were positioned incorrectly, if that is the cause.

“In the short term, we turned off all the exterior lights we can at night,” she said. “It’s not an elimination, but there has been a pretty big reduction.”


Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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