Casino spotlights stack odds against birds, Yorkton man says

Bird lovers are raising concerns about the bright lights used by some Saskatchewan casinos.

Bird lovers are raising concerns about the bright lights used by some Saskatchewan casinos.

Three Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority venues have large spotlights pointed into the night sky.

At the Painted Hand Casino in Yorkton, and at two other SIGA sites, the light rays form a giant teepee in the night sky and can seen from many kilometres away.

Larry Off, a bird enthusiast in Yorkton, believes there is a link between the lights and an inordinate number of dead birds he came across while walking around the community last Friday.

"These birds were — there were literally hundreds and hundreds of them — they were caught up and they would just stay up in these lights until they played out," he told CBC News. "And then they'd basically fall out of the sky and land on the streets."

Off approached the casino and was directed to SIGA, where officials have said they will look into his complaint.

"I guess there are certain types of birds that migrate at certain times of the year — but they migrate at night — they are nocturnal that way. And the lights may confuse them," said Zane Hansen, the president of SIGA. "So, we just want to make sure we understand that so we can take the right solution and steps to address it."

Hansen said SIGA was consulting the provincial environment ministry about the matter.

Curtis Standing, general manager of the Painted Hand Casino, told CBC News that the ministry recommended reducing the time the lights are on. He added they were researching to see if turning the lights off during migration season would help protect the birds.

Hansen said the lights are a key design feature used to attract customers and they have plans to install the teepee display in three other casino locations, including one named Living Sky.