Birds And Kauai Football
Some residents of Kauai may refuse to rescue birds and will let them die all because of a football game. What is happening on Kauai?!
So there I was, reading news articles and blog posts from several sources online about this Kauai football story and just had to stop. This whole fiasco upsets me on so many levels. Let me summarize.
First, I completely disagree with the decision of some of the residents to consciously not rescue birds and just let them die.
Second, I really believe all of us have a duty and responsibility to instill in future generations a respect for nature and the environment. I know we are not perfect, but we must strive to do our best. So I completely disagree with wearing t-shirts at high school events that degrade nature. I believe this absolutely sends the wrong message.
Third, some news outlets and blogs imply that the stadium light issue was all of a sudden. It was not. Some of them don’t even mention the warning Kauai received in 2005.
Fourth, some news outlets and blogs make it sound like this entire problem is somehow the birds’ fault. Again, Kauai received their first warning in 2005. Kauai failed to correct the problem. So the way I see it, it’s not the birds’ fault at all. Kauai ignored an issue and now they can’t ignore it anymore.
Okay, now the full story.
The U.S. Justice Department said federal wildlife officials notified Kauai back in 2005 that its stadium lighting was hurting migratory birds and that it was also in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. See the stadium lights did not have the required shielding installed so the lights shine in all directions instead of just down onto the football field.
So basically young migrating seabirds mistake these bright lights for the moon or stars and become disorientated. They can end up flying in circles eventually becoming exhausted, falling to the ground.
Scott Fretz, the state’s wildlife program manager said:
When they hit the ground, it’s usually very hard for them to take off. They need a breeze or they need a place to launch from. They’re just sitting ducks for the cats that are all over the place.
The primary bird of concern is the Newell’s Shearwater. This bird numbered around 80,000 in the 1990s but has plunged 75 percent since then.
But after five years Kauai has failed to install the required shielded lights. So pressure from the federal government has forced the school to move the traditional Friday night games to Saturday afternoons.
Fortunately, Kauai did reach a deal with federal prosecutors in which officials will install shielded lights on the island’s three football fields by next season. So any night games next year will have to be played under these specially designed shielded lights. Kauai is also required to establish an escrow account to cover fines for any birds downed during the games.
Now the community is divided over the issue and many residents are angered and upset that their Autumn tradition has been tampered with. No more Friday Night Lights this year.
The way I see it is, Kauai was warned. They had five long years. Five years to fix the problem. Now that they didn’t fix it on their own, they are being forced to fix it.
I think there was more than enough time for parents and residents to get together, come up with ideas and create some fund raising events to pay for the new lighting. I mean it only took them a fraction of that time to create t-shirts like the one below once the Friday games were moved to Saturdays. Seriously, if they can make these shirts in a few days, what could they have done over a few years?
The person in the photo is named Rich Rapozo. He told reporters that some people are actually refusing to rescue birds they see on the ground in protest of the Saturday games. Are you kidding me?! People are going to let animals die because they couldn’t fix a problem themselves that was violating federal law?! Even after they were warned about it many years ago?!
Okay, now let’s talk about this t-shirt Rich is wearing. So here is a guy wearing, in my opinion, a distasteful t-shirt at a high school football stadium with lots of young impressionable children around. Yet he’s not the only one. According to NPR, there are over 250 t-shirts already sold in three different school colors. Wow! Not to Mention Rich comes from a family where many of his relatives either hold public office or are running for public office (like Mel Rapozo) and unfortunately share his opinions.
Well, I hope some of the money from these disgusting t-shirts are going towards those new lights.
Rich also said after one of those Saturday games:
“They chose the bird over our keiki.”
Keiki is a Hawaiian word for children. Sorry Rich, I completely disagree. You and your community ignored a problem for five years. You brought this onto yourselves. You ignored your keiki and the birds.
I know Rich and the rest of his community desperately want to believe they are somehow victims in all of this, but they are not. They themselves made victims out of the birds and their children by not fixing a very important problem, the lights.
Now they are making a conscious choice to wear these t-shirts and allow birds to die while their children watch and learn from their actions.
Thankfully not everyone on Kauai is like Rich. As I was researching this story, I found a few blogs from Kauai. On one of them, an anonymous resident made the following comment about what is happening there:
In Hawaiian culture all living creatures have a place in order for things to be pono or in balance. A better lesson to teach our keiki is respect for all animals and how to live along side them.
I completely agree!