In 2013, The Ricketts Conservation Foundation (RCF) initiated 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, which is being carried out by BRI, provides an opportunity to identify major threats to loons and to create solutions that strengthen current populations and restore loons to their former breeding range.
The Restore the Call initiative encompasses three major components including population assessments, outreach and conservation efforts, and research and restoration studies. These components will be carried out in a number of individual projects within the three main focal regions.
Learn why this is a critical time for the Common Loon in North America.
Scroll down for more videos and information on this project.
As part of the Restore the Call loon conservation initiative, BRI biologists have successfully translocated Common Loon chicks in Minnesota and Massachusetts. This summer, BRI will move loon chicks from areas in Maine and New York with dense loon populations to the same release lake used in 2015 in Massachusetts.
To learn more about the status of this five-year project initiated in 2013, download the full news release.
The entire breeding loon population in the western United States is approximately 100 territorial pairs—most of those are in Montana (72). 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 will investigate current threats, how they might be reversed, and how Montana’s breeding population can be used to help support the continuation of Wyoming’s struggling population. This project also includes 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. Efforts over the next few years will include an evaluation of the quality of the many lakes in southern Minnesota to determine if restoration efforts should proceed to help loons expand back into their former range.
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 will be studied to determine how they can best contribute toward restoration efforts in Massachusetts.
Research and Restoration
A conversation with Joe Ricketts and David Evers about their loon restoration project, ‘Restore the Call.’
Restore the Call Presentation to introduce the components of this project.
The Ricketts Conservation Foundation's loon initiative, which is being carried out by BRI, is the largest conservation study for the Common Loon, a key bioindicator of aquatic integrity for lakes and near shore marine ecosystems across North America.
"Whatever happens in conservation is going to affect the whole human race, so we are all going to have to pitch in and play our part."
Joe Ricketts, RCF Founder
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