Does rule protecting Kauai endangered birds jeopardize students’ health?

Kapaa High School vs. Nanakuli High and Intermediate

Is protecting endangered birds putting the health of keiki in jeopardy? Some parents think so and contacted KHON2 via Report It.

The Endangered Species Act protects endangered Newell’s shearwater birds.

Because of that, high school football games on Kauai are not allowed at night during the birds’ nesting season, from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15.

This federal restriction forced the state to move the games from Friday nights to Saturday afternoons.

This past Saturday, a high school football player suffered symptoms of heat exhaustion during an afternoon game.

“Now that we’ve had a player sidelined due to the heat, it kind of becomes an issue on forefront of people’s minds again,” said Kapaa High School athletic director Greg Gonsalves.

Gonsalves says they’ve been playing Saturday afternoon football games for over six years now, and nothing like what happened this weekend has ever happened before.

“Our trainers took care of him. I believe his parents took him to the emergency room,” he said.

While Gonsalves understands why rules are put in place, he doesn’t want what happened to his player to happen again, so he would like the games held at night.

KHON2 reached out to the Department of Education to see if it would consider changing the football schedule. In a statement, DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Delacruz said:

Federal laws prevent night-time activities in certain locations and school athletics is no exception. Our school athletic trainers incorporate hydration and preventive measures to minimize heat-related effects on student athletes. However, we will be providing additional heat-illness prevention guidelines to be used for our students and student-athletes soon.

The Endangered Species Act protects the native Newell’s shearwater birds and restricts nighttime football games, among many other night activities requiring bright lights (e.g. road construction projects) during the fledgling season.

This year’s Saturday games are scheduled at noon (junior varsity) and 2:30 p.m. (varsity).

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