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Restore the Call - Wyoming
Restore the Call - Wyoming

Restore the Call - Wyoming

The Common Loon is listed by Wyoming Game & Fish as a Tier 1 Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The population of only 14 pairs can be found on lakes in the northwest portion of the state in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests. These loons are at the southern extent of the species' range and are isolated by over 200 miles from the nearest breeding population.

Lead Investigator: Vincent Spagnuolo
Contributing BRI Staff: Chris Persico, Allison Byrd, Michelle Kneeland, and Jeff Fair

BRI FEATURED IN YELLOWSTONE PODCAST

BRI FEATURED IN YELLOWSTONE PODCAST

BRI studies loons across North America, including a small and isolated population in Yellowstone National Park. Hear what it's like, and find out how biologists capture loons, in Episode 1 of Yellowstone's Telemetry podcast, 'To Catch a Loon'.
Project Overview

Project Overview

Monitoring loon pairs and chicks began in 1987 and the population has recently declined from a high of 21 pairs. Starting in 2012, BRI researchers began studying this population in collaboration with Yellowstone National Park, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park, and the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests. In 2014, we captured loons in Yellowstone National Park for the very first time.
 

Study Goals

The long-term goals of this project are to determine the reasons for the decline of Common Loons in Wyoming and implement classic and novel conservation strategies for their recovery.
 

Study Region

The study is being conducted in the northwest portion of Wyoming, which lies within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This area includes Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and parts of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and Bridger-Teton National Forest. The landscape is characterized at higher elevations by lodgepole pine and mixed conifer forests <em>(Pinus contorta)</em> and alpine meadows, while sagebrush steppe and grasslands occur at lower elevations.
The study is being conducted in the northwest portion of Wyoming, which lies within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This area includes Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and parts of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and Bridger-Teton National Forest. The landscape is characterized at higher elevations by lodgepole pine and mixed conifer forests (Pinus contorta) and alpine meadows, while sagebrush steppe and grasslands occur at lower elevations.
 

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Agency Map

Many lakes in the region exist between altitudes of 6,000 and 8,000 feet, the largest of which are Yellowstone Lake and Jackson Lake. Northwest Wyoming is a major vacation destination in North America with Yellowstone National Park alone drawing more than 3 million visitors annually. The majority of visitation occurs in the summer months.
Many lakes in the region exist between altitudes of 6,000 and 8,000 feet, the largest of which are Yellowstone Lake and Jackson Lake. Northwest Wyoming is a major vacation destination in North America with Yellowstone National Park alone drawing more than 3 million visitors annually. The majority of visitation occurs in the summer months.
 

Methods of Gathering Data

BRI has a presence in the study area from May through September for the monitoring and capture and banding of loons. Most surveys require hiking into lakes and monitoring loon activity from shore or by canoe; aerial surveys are used for additional monitoring and to survey remote lakes. Both nocturnal and diurnal methods of loon capture are utilized. Any recovered loon carcasses are necropsied by a wildlife veterinarian to determine the cause of death and collect tissue samples, and inviable eggs are collected for contaminants sampling.
BRI has a presence in the study area from May through September for the monitoring and capture and banding of loons. Most surveys require hiking into lakes and monitoring loon activity from shore or by canoe; aerial surveys are used for additional monitoring and to survey remote lakes. Both nocturnal and diurnal methods of loon capture are utilized. Any recovered loon carcasses are necropsied by a wildlife veterinarian to determine the cause of death and collect tissue samples, and inviable eggs are collected for contaminants sampling.
Expected Deliverables/Outcomes

Expected Deliverables/Outcomes

In the short-term this project will achieve the following:
  • Monitor existing loon territories and identify new loon pairs and unpaired adults in the study area
  • Determine reproductive success (number of young fledged per territorial pair) of loons breeding in Wyoming
  • Locate nest sites of breeding loons
  • Delineate territorial boundaries and habitat use throughout the region
  • Assess threats to reproductive success and adult survival
 
Project Funding

Project Funding

This project is part of The Ricketts Conservation Foundation 5-year Restore the Call scientific initiative, a national loon study that is being carried out by BRI.
Wyoming Status Report  for the Common Loon

WYOMING STATUS REPORT FOR THE COMMON LOON

Wyoming’s landscape is a study in contrasts, from shortgrass prairies and sagebrush steppes to the stunning peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Yellowstone National Park is dedicated to preserving the state’s natural environments and native species. One such species, the Common Loon, is in danger of disappearing. Since the mid-2000s, this population has declined by nearly 42 percent and is considered one of the most southern populations in its range.

The Common Loon is considered the highest ranked Species of Greatest Need by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Download Status Report.

 
Photo Credits: Header photo © BRI-Jonathan Fiely;
Biodiversity Research Institute