Volunteers needed for DNR loon survey

The Minnesota DNR is seeking volunteers to help monitor the loon population in Cook and Lake counties in northeastern Minnesota. Volunteers are needed for one day during the June 24 through July 4 monitoring period.

For the past 20 years, with the assistance of hundreds of volunteer observers, the DNR has gathered information about common loon numbers on more than 600 lakes distributed among six regions, or “index areas,” throughout the state.

“The annual survey offers people a unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while being part of a team that monitors the health and welfare of Minnesota’s state bird,” said Gaea Crozier, DNR northeast region nongame specialist. “The results allow the DNR to detect long-term changes in loon population health and help assess impacts of events like the gulf oil spill and ongoing lakeshore development.”

Volunteers can choose one (or more) of the following lakes to count the number of adult and juvenile loons seen and report these observations to the DNR for data analysis. The time commitment is one to four hours per lake. Surveys must be done between 5 a.m.-noon on one day during the monitoring period.

Volunteers must commit to completing one or more assigned lakes and consider participating in the program for multiple years. Surveys can be conducted from shore on smaller lakes, or by boat or canoe on larger lakes. DNR will provide detailed instructions, training materials, maps and a data form.

The survey wouldn’t be possible without volunteers, Crozier said. “I’d like to thank all of our current volunteers and hope they consider helping us again with this important survey by giving another morning to the loons,” she said.

Cook County lakes that need volunteers include: Burnt, Finger, Flame, Fourmile, Fox 16-637, Pike, Richey, Smoke and Two Island.

Lake County lakes that need volunteers include: Lake T, Shoepack and Thunderbird.

People interested in being a volunteer loon surveyor should contact Ashley Kastner at (218) 328-8823, or ashley.kastner@state.mn.us.

For more information on Minnesota’s loon monitoring program, visit www.mndnr.gov/eco/nongame/projects. For information about common loons, visit www.mndnr.gov/birds.

The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is supported with donations to the nongame wildlife check-off on Minnesota’s tax forms.

Photo credit to Brenda Hadrich