In 2013, BRI and The Ricketts Conservation Foundation (RCF) worked together to initiate the largest conservation study for the Common Loon, a key bioindicator of aquatic integrity for lakes and near shore marine ecosystems across North America. This scientific initiative laid a strong foundation to help researchers identify major threats to loons and to create solutions that strengthen populations and to restore loons to their former breeding range.
The Restore the Call initiative encompassed three major components including population assessments, outreach and conservation efforts, and research and restoration studies. These components were carried out in a number of individual projects within the three main focal regions.
The entire breeding loon population in the western United States is approximately 100 territorial pairs—most of those (72) are in Montana. In Wyoming, only 14 territorial pairs were found in 2013; in Idaho, just one pair is known. The challenge for Wyoming’s breeding loon population to continue is that it is small, declining, and isolated (more than 220 miles distant from Montana’s breeding population). In Wyoming, the loon is considered the highest ranked species of conservation need by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Our study investigated current threats to loons, how they might be reversed, and how Montana’s breeding population could be used to help support the continuation of Wyoming’s struggling population. This project also included studies in Washington and British Columbia.
Minnesota boasts nearly 12,000 lakes that are larger than 10 acres. The 4,600 territorial loon pairs in Minnesota represent 52 percent of all loon pairs in the lower 48 states (there are 8,800 in total). However, about one-third of the loon's former range is still unoccupied in the state.
Translocation efforts continue in Minnesota, including evaluation of the quality of the many lakes in southern Minnesota.
Learn more about Restore the Call and ongoing loon studies in Minnesota.
Home to more than 1,100 lakes, Massachusetts offers prime habitat for breeding loons. Extirpated in the early 20th century, Common Loons returned in 1975 as a nesting species. Over the last four decades, loons have made a comeback—in 2013 there were 36 territorial pairs statewide. However, breeding loons remain restricted to only a part of their former Massachusetts range. Larger populations in New Hampshire and Maine continue to be studied to determine how they can best contribute toward restoration efforts in Massachusetts.
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