Loons were removed from Vermont’s endangered species list in 2005 following decades of recovery effort. But one of the main threats still facing loons as they continue to recover is human disturbance during the breeding season. As Vermont’s loon population continues to increase and canoeing and kayaking becomes more popular, there is greater potential for people to come into conflict with loons. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking boaters and anglers to enjoy loons from a distance.
“Most areas where loons are nesting on Vermont’s lakes are surrounded by signs reminding people to give loons the space they need, but not all nesting areas are marked,” said John Buck, a wildlife biologist with the department. “We’re asking people to enjoy loons from a distance using binoculars, whether you are in a motorboat, canoe, or a kayak.”
Eric Hanson oversees the Loon Conservation Project for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. He and his colleagues monitor Vermont’s loon population and have even put out game cameras around loon nests to monitor the behavior of people around them. Hanson says that most people are respectful of nesting loons and give them space, but people sometimes inadvertently harm loons.
“Loon chicks can be difficult to see, so we ask motorboaters to note where loon families are and to avoid those areas,” said Hanson. “We also ask that motorboaters obey ‘no wake’ laws within 200 feet of shorelines because boat wakes can flood and destroy shoreline loon nests.”
Photo by Phil Etter
Loons are susceptible to human disturbance and their nests can be flooded and destroyed by motorboat wakes.