DOD Offers $250k to Track, Protect Seabirds at Air Force Radar Station on Kauai

( Last week, Just the News gave its weekly “Golden Horseshoe” award on wasteful government spending to the Department of Defense over its offering a grant of $257,753 for “seabird monitoring” and predator control at ab Air Force installation in Hawaii.

As wasteful Pentagon spending goes, $257,753 is a bit on the small side.

The Army Corps of Engineers Alaska District is offering this grant to monitor endangered seabirds at Kokee Air Force Station in Kauai. Whoever gets the grant will also have to control and trap any predators that might be a threat to birds.

Apparently, the Air Force has had a heck of a time protecting the Newell’s shearwaters and Hawaiian petrels that are both protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Part of the problem is the artificial lighting at the installation has been disorienting these birds and causing them to either collide with the lights or circle the lights like moths until they drop from exhaustion. And once they’re on the ground, these seabirds aren’t likely to fly again so they are getting killed by predators like feral pigs, dogs, and cats, as well as rats and barn owls.

The Air Force tried reducing the lighting at the installation in hopes of lowering the number of seabirds dropping like flies. It also constructed a “walking path light system” to cut down on the perimeter lighting during the months the seabirds are in the area.

Alas, despite its efforts, the Air Force failed to reduce the number of seabirds lost.

So the Department of Defense agreed to provide the funding for predator control.

The $257,753 Operation Seabird Monitoring and Predator Trapping will commence in April and continue through the end of the year.

The monitoring will include “night vision, thermal, avian radar, acoustic monitoring devices, wire vibration meters, ground cameras and/or installation walking surveys.” The lucky grant recipient will also have to trap potential predators and remove them from the installation to boost the “seabird colony size and population resilience.”