Night Skies are habitat!
Dark skies are often overlooked as important parts of habitat….but lighting instantly effects all species.
Humans sleep best without glaring lights – and so do animals!
Having lights on at night destroys the sleeping areas for many animals, such as Hummingbirds and songbirds; but also confuses and changes the natural order of the world.
Lighting at Night Can Destroy Habitat in an Instant
How Night harms the environment:
- Lighting has the immediate effect of removing habitat for many species from large mammals to tiny pollinators such as hummingbirds by literally removing sleep areas;
- It harms insects by confusing and distracting them- insects that we love such as fireflies and Luna moths- so that they either circle until they tire and die or for fireflies, it removes the signalling power to find mates
- It changes the metabolic process of plants and animals from trees, to frogs and salamanders…and even humans! And for humans, sleeping with lights on alter our hormone functions and metabolic processes and is linked to increase in diabetes and even breast cancer rates.
- It changers predator prey relationships. If you are afraid of predators, you may have just invited them to your doorstep, as many predators hunt during dusk and dawn, and the glow around the lighting mimics these conditions…perfect for them.
- Finally, it changes the course of both bird and turtle migration, confusing the animals that mistake the lights for other markers such as the moon over water or even stars.
The Land Between is the last place in southern Ontario that you can see the Milky Way.
It is also home to the first Night Sky Preserve in Canada at Torrence Barrens and to the first night sky bylaws in Gravenhurst….
and others are following suit becuase they recongize that dark skies can also be a boon for tourism and economic development (see Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve)…
Most of our municipalities have bylaws that deal with lighting, light trespass, and even specifically designed to preserve the night sky….
And many lake associations and communities are now demanding more controls and protection of night skies.
What you can do:
- Point lights downwards and cap them so that they only light necessary areas
- Avoid bright white lights or LED white lights; these are actually blinding at night for both animals and humans because they are so extreme on the spectrum that the eye cannot adjust fast enough
- Cover lights with orange or red films or use coloured bulbs lights. These colours do not harm animals or change metabolic processes as these colours are close to the right end of the spectrum; and our eyes see better with these colours at night (fog lights!)
- Use reduced wattage bulbs; and/or use light sensors for security lights or traffic areas
- Learn about your local municipal bylaws. Here are some good bylaw examples, thanks to Highlands East. Each municipality has a dedicated bylaw enforcement officer.
To find out more about stewarding the night sky and night glow effects, visit The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
Or download Robert Dick’s of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Guidelines for Outdoor Lighting