Friday, December 03, 2010

Hawaiian company agrees to help seabirds more

From U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service press release:

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative entered a plea agreement today in federal court in Honolulu to resolve violations of the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today. KIUC pleaded guilty to count one and count 16 of a 19-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in May 2010.

Count one charged a violation of the ESA by knowingly “taking” at least 14 Newell’s shearwaters, a federally protected threatened species, at or near Keālia Beach. [Newell's Shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli) is a subspecies of Townsend's Shearwater. --WB] Count 16 charged a violation of the MBTA by the “taking” of at least 18 Newell’s shearwaters, also protected as a migratory species, at KIUC’s Port Allen facility.

Under the ESA, “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.

“The Department of Justice sought a criminal prosecution of KIUC only after a long history of attempts to resolve ongoing violations,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The resolution of this case will set an example for others and help in the successful recovery of the Newell’s shearwaters, a threatened native species that is part of Hawai‘i’s cultural and natural heritage.” ...

KIUC admitted in its plea agreement that since June 2005, at least 14 Newell’s shearwaters were found dead near KIUC power lines near Keālia Beach and Donkey Beach. At least ten more shearwaters were found since 2005 near other KIUC power lines, including lines in and near the Wailua River Valley, Waimea River Valley, Eleele, and Kapaa. Necropsies of some birds concluded that they died from blunt force trauma consistent with a collision with a power line or other solid object. Eyewitnesses have observed such collisions with KIUC power lines.

The utility cooperative's press release about its responsibilities appears here.

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