The County of Kauai announced Thursday it has struck a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid penalties for causing the deaths of at least 18 rare birds.

The feds had documented a number of Newell’s Shearwaters being killed or otherwise harmed by lights at county facilities on nine October nights — during fledgling season — between 2005 and 2007, the county stated in a press release.

Had the federal government brought charges for those deaths, the county says it could have been forced to pay up to $450,000 for violations of the Endangered Species Act and $270,000 fine for violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Instead, under terms of the agreement, the county agrees to be charged with a single misdemeanor count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and faces just $15,000 in fines and a shorter term of probation.

The county announced last month it was applying for an incidental take license to accidentally kill 15 birds per year without penalty. The island also recently hosted its only Friday night football game of the 2010 season, as the high school athletic federation moved the games to Saturday afternoons to avoid impacting the birds.

The federal government previously brought criminal charges against Kauai’s electric company for failing to take steps to protect birds.

View the full county press release:

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