The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to help monitor the loon population in Aitkin and Crow Wing counties. Volunteers are needed, for a minimum of one morning during the July 2 through July 12 monitoring period, to count the number of adult and juvenile loons on pre-selected lakes.
For more than 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.
“Our loon survey volunteers are a vital to the success of our annual survey,” said Gaea Crozier, Northeast region nongame wildlife specialist. “The annual loon count allows us to detect changes in the loon population and identify potential management needs and opportunities.”
Volunteers can choose one or more lakes on which to count the number of adult and juvenile loons. They will then report these observations to the DNR for data analysis.
Aitkin County and Crow Wing County lakes that need volunteers include Camp, Coffee, Four, Laurel, Lily, Little Ripple, Little Turtle, Pickerel, Pine, Rushmeyer, Section Ten, Section 25, Sixteen, Tarr.
The time commitment is one to four hours per lake. Each lake’s survey must be done between 5 a.m. and noon on a given day during the monitoring period.
Volunteers must commit to completing one or more assigned lakes and are encouraged to 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 survey volunteer and select a lake, go to the loon monitoring program page and click on “Volunteer Map.” Select an available lake, add it to the volunteer cart and sign up to become a loon surveyor.
People with questions about becoming a loon population volunteer can contact area loon coordinator Karen McLennan by phone at 218-203-4352 or via email at [email protected]
The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is supported by donations to the nongame wildlife check-off on Minnesota’s tax forms.