Sunday, May 26, 2024

Lights Out

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State Representative Joe Gresko, (D), 121st Connecticut House District
Robert LaFrance, Policy Director, Audubon Society

Cover Puffin Photo by M Zonderling

Connecticut’s night skies have the opportunity to be darker and safer for migratory birds, if we act now to go “lights out.”

The new House Bill No. 6607– An Act Concerning the Nighttime Lighting of State-Owned Buildings at Certain Times for the Protection of Birds, bill will help provide safe passage for birds by having building managers turn off nonessential nighttime lighting in buildings owned by the state.

HB 6607 was on the agenda of the Environment Committee on Friday.  State Rep. Gresko, Chairman of the Environment Committee,, acknowledged that it was his goal to get it voted favorably out of committee.  The bill in fact was JF’d (joint favorable) on Consent and now will head to the House floor for a vote.

Every year, billions of birds migrate north and south by navigating with the night sky. As they pass over big cities on their way, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and skyglow, which makes them vulnerable to threats like building and window collisions.

We know that going “lights out” can work. A study by the Field Museum of Chicago found that turning off the lights at one problematic building reduced migratory bird deaths there by 80%.

A majority of migratory species, like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, migrate at night. Turning off bright building lights helps prevent collisions. Urge our Environment Committee to advance this bill!

This was the second round for “Lights Out” Last year, a similar bill was not reported favorably out of the Environment Committee, but it did get some positive testimony.

House Bill No. 6607 is an opportunity for the State of Connecticut to set an example in the national effort to reduce building collisions.

Email or call your House member and ask them to vote favorability on HB No. 6607.

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