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The Lure of the Common Loon
Joe Rickets pledges $6.5 million to save an icon of the northern lakes
by Bruce Barcott
The call of the common loon is one of the most beautifully haunting sounds in North America. The bird’s iconic wail (to hear it, click the play button above), is used by mated pairs to keep track of one another in their breeding grounds along the shores of pristine northern lakes. This week the loon’s call brought forth an unexpected answer from the deep pockets of a controversial American billionaire. On Wednesday, the Ricketts Conservation Foundation awarded a $6.5 million grant to the Maine-based Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) for research projects aimed at saving the loon.
It’s an unusual award from a surprising source.
“This is the largest award ever given toward loon conservation and research,” BRI founder and executive director Dave Evers told me earlier this week, prior to the official announcement. “It’s big enough to allow us to conduct new research, strengthen existing populations, and restore loons to places where they’ve been lost over the past century.”
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