Well here’s a surprising way to save birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) have announced that they are mulling over a plan to place lasers on top of transmission poles throughout Hawaii in order to stop birds from colliding with them. It is hoped that the use of high-concentrated light will stop the islands’ endangered birds from hitting electrical lines.
KIUC’s transmission and distribution manager, and head of the utility’s conservation efforts, Carey Koide, has said that the program is the first of its kind. In a recent statement he said: “As far as we know, this is the first time anywhere that lasers have been used to create a ‘fence’ for the birds. The purpose of this research is to learn more about the birds and their patterns of activity so we can come up with ways to minimize potential hazards and do it in a cost-effective way.”
The first step of the plan is to attach 30 lasers to poles around Kaua’i and then see if different colors affect how many birds are deterred from approaching the lines. Hawaii’s endangered Newell’s shearwater and Hawaiian petrel have been identified as birds that are “especially vulnerable to death or injury from collisions with utility equipment because they fly in and out to sea at night and in the early morning and are at greatest risk during a new moon phase when the skies are darkest.”
The use of lasers has been endorsed as a safe deterrent by the Humane Society of the United States as well as the British Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Birds are reportedly startled, but not harmed by the disparity between the laser beam and the ambient light, and as the lasers are level, they shouldn’t be a problem for either pilots or other island residents.