Make Way for Loon Chicks!
The Loon Preservation Committee urges boaters to keep an eye out for loons with chicks.
MOULTONBOROUGH, New Hampshire—As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, the Loon Preservation Committee is reminding boaters to drive cautiously and give loons their space. “While an adult loon can dive to avoid being hit by a rapidly approaching boat, loon chicks are more buoyant and are less able to escape,” said LPC Senior Biologist and Executive Director, Harry Vogel. “During this busy holiday weekend and throughout the rest of the summer, we’re asking boaters to keep an eye out for loons and give them plenty of space—150 feet or more.”
While motorized boats are the ones most likely to injure or kill loons, human powered vessels such as kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards should also keep their distance from loons on the water, especially those that have chicks. “It’s a full-time job for a pair of loons to raise their chicks. They need to be constantly looking out for predators and catching fish to feed their chicks. The close approach of boats, even kayaks and canoes, often distracts loon parents—they focus on this new potential threat, and as a result their chicks are no longer being fed or cared for as they should be,” said Vogel.
While many loon nests are hatching now, many others will not hatch for a few more weeks. The Loon Preservation Committee says that it is just as important to give nesting loons their space. “When boats—both motorized and human-powered—approach nesting loons too closely, the loons perceive that as a threat. They’ll often get off of their nests and into the water, which leaves their eggs exposed to threats like predators or the elements,” said LPC Volunteer and Outreach Biologist, Caroline Hughes. If boaters accidentally flush a loon from the nest, they are urged to leave the area immediately so that the loon can resume incubating its eggs. “If the boat leaves the area, most of the time that loon will get right back up on the nest. The issue comes when the boat sticks around—when that happens, the loons may abandon their nest entirely,” Hughes said.
Meanwhile, to prevent loon deaths from lead poisoning, the Loon Preservation Committee and New Hampshire Fish and Game have again teamed up with eight local tackle shops to offer a lead tackle buyback program to help anglers dispose of lead sinkers and jigs that are now banned by state law.
From now through the end of the year, or until all of this season’s certificates are claimed, anglers can exchange one ounce or more of banned tackle (jigs and sinkers) for a $10 gift certificate redeemable at participating shops in Bristol, Effingham, Errol, Holderness, Meredith, New London, Newbury, and Raymond. Full details of the buyback and participating shops can be found online at www.loonsafe.org. Collection receptacles for old lead tackle can also be found at all New Hampshire Fish and Game offices, numerous transfer stations, and other sites throughout the state. An interactive map of disposal sites is available at https://loonsafe.org/shops-and-disposal-sites/.
Loons are a threatened species in New Hampshire and are protected by state and federal laws from hunting or harassment, including flushing loons from nests. If you observe harassment of loons, you may contact New Hampshire Fish & Game Department (603-271-3361) or Marine Patrol (603-293-2037) for assistance.
The Loon Preservation Committee monitors loons throughout the state as part of its mission to restore and maintain a healthy population of loons in New Hampshire; to monitor the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality; and to promote a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.
To learn more about loons in New Hampshire, please visit the Loon Preservation Committee at www.loon.org or call the Loon Preservation Committee at (603) 476-LOON (5666).
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Suggested Photo Caption: A loon chick rides on one parent’s back while the other parent searches for fish. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Esten.
Suggested Photo Caption: A newly hatched loon chick naps on its parent’s back. Photo courtesy of Jon Waage.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Harry Vogel
Senior Biologist/Executive Director
Loon Preservation Committee