The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to help monitor the loon population in Itasca County in northeastern Minnesota. Volunteers are needed for one day during the June 26 through July 6 monitoring period to count the number of adult and juvenile loons on pre-selected lakes.
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 loon count gives the DNR the ability to detect changes in the loon population and identify potential management needs and opportunities.
Volunteers can choose one or more of the following lakes on which to count the number of adult and juvenile loons. They will then report these observations to the DNR for data analysis.
Itasca County lakes that need volunteers include:
- Big Island
- Big Dick
- Brush Shanty
- Little Clubhouse
- Little Dick
- Little Ole
- Little Ranier
- No Man’s
- Three Island
- Unnamed 31-0498
- Unnamed 31-0661
The time commitment is one to four hours per lake. Surveys must be done between 5 a.m. and noon on one day during the monitoring period. Volunteers are asked to observe any applicable CDC COVID-19 and boating safety guidelines.
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. Volunteers use an online system to reserve and manage their lake assignments, view maps and information for their lakes, and print data collection sheets. The online system was funded by a donation from the Minnesota United professional soccer team, whose mascot is a loon.
To sign up as a loon survey volunteer and select a lake, go to the DNR’s loon monitoring program page and click on “Volunteer Map.”
For questions or more information, members of the public should call northeast regional loon monitoring coordinator Bry Persing at 218-735-3962, or email her.
The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is supported with donations to the nongame wildlife check-off on Minnesota’s tax forms.