Publication in: Fall 2022 Issue

Lights Out! Reducing Anthropogenic Bird Mortality in Asheville, NC
Andrea Carver
Interdisciplinary Studies
Faculty Mentor(s):
Andrew Laughlin
Abstract / Summary:
Anthropogenic light pollution has had a negative effect on migratory bird populations and is the cause of approximately one billion bird deaths a year in the United States. Light pollution disrupts migration by attracting birds towards urban areas, which can result in fatal window collisions. Not only does artificial light at night have a negative effect on migratory birds, it also disrupts other aspects of biodiversity and human health. The National Audubon Society created an initiative that tackles this problem -- the Lights Out Program. This nationwide program provides a framework in which local organizations can work with building owners, managers, and occupants to turn off their lights at night to reduce light pollution. I researched the ongoing actions of other cities participating in the Lights Out program to document barriers and strategies that have been successful elsewhere. To gauge level of compliance in downtown Asheville, NC, baseline data was collected on light pollution across targeted buildings and compared with the data collected from the surveys completed after outreach and education efforts. The data collection involved taking an inventory of buildings to measure how each structure ranked in compliance with the Lights Out Initiative, which includes the state of the interior and exterior lights. The building occupants, owners, and managers were contacted about this initiative and encouraged to comply with this program along with installing bird-friendly and energy-smart technology such as motion sensors, timers, or detectors and closing blinds at night. There was an overall decrease in light pollution within the survey area after the community outreach and education efforts took place. This paper also summarizes research that focuses on financial incentives from third parties in terms of retrofitting buildings to install motion sensors or energy efficient technology.
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