LIHUE, Hawaii — An agreement has paved the way for the first nighttime football games during fledgling seabirds season on Kauai in seven years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a deal Friday with Kauai County allowing four night games this football season.

The first game was played Friday night, followed by games on Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2xo0aKc ).

Football games on the Garden Isle have been a daytime affair since 2010, when the shift was made to accommodate the season from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15 when fledgling endangered Newell’s shearwaters are at risk of harm from bright lights — which the seabirds can mistake for the moon and stars they instinctively use as a guide to fly out to sea.

It was determined that young seabirds trying to find the sea and confused by stadium lights often fell to the ground from exhaustion.

The schedule change to day from night was made after the county admitted guilt in September 2010 to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protecting Newell’s shearwaters because of its lighting policies at county facilities, including stadium lights during night football games. The county paid a fine and took corrective measures under a plea agreement.

“I think we look at this as another example of collaboration with the community, state and federal agencies to continue the mission of conservation,” said Aaron Ochoa, spokesman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Conservation cannot be achieved with one organization, he added.

The four dates for nighttime football games were selected because the days were considered either early or late in the seabird fledgling season and that “shielding of the stadium lighting and/or moon presence in the evenings will minimize any anticipated takings,” according to the agreement.

Waimea High School played its homecoming football game Friday night at Hanapepe Stadium.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com