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Maui law regulates outdoor lighting to protect native wildlife

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A measure to protect wildlife by regulating the type of outdoor lights used in Maui County was signed into law by Mayor Mike Victorino this week.

The new law regulates the amount of blue light emitted. Lights must also be pointed downward and fully shielded.

Environmental groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity celebrated the signing of the new law, saying it will protect native birds and nesting turtles.

Since birds usually navigate to the sea by following the glow of the moon, they can get confused by bright artificial lights at night. They end up circling the light for long periods of time, becoming exhausted and falling to the ground.

Bright lights can also disorient baby sea turtles trying to move from the sand to the sea.

“I’m thrilled that Maui is taking this bold and important step to protect our endangered seabirds and sea turtles,” Maxx Phillips, Hawai‘i director and staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “I hope more islands take note and pass similar measures to protect the unique animals that make Hawai‘i so special.”

Some in the hospitality industry opposed the bill. While events and non-oceanfront homes are exempt, hotels and oceanfront properties are not.

The law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.

The season for both hatchling turtles and fledgling seabirds runs from about July 1 to Dec. 15.

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