The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to help monitor the loon population in Aitkin, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca and Lake counties. Volunteers are needed for a minimum of one morning during the June 30 through July 10 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.
“The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is a success due to hundreds of volunteers who conduct surveys annually,” said DNR’s Gaea Crozier, northeast region nongame wildlife specialist. “The data collected allows us to track changes in the loon population and identify potential management needs and opportunities on Minnesota lakes.”
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 and Crow Wing County lakes that need volunteers include Ann, Coffee, Dogfish, Farm Island, Four 01-0116, Four 01-0162, Hanging Kettle, Laurel, Lingroth, Little Ripple, Little Pine, Little Turtle, Maple, Monson, Pickerel, Pine, Rushmeyer, Section 25, Sixteen, Sunset, Taylor, Three, Townline, Turtle, and two unnamed lakes 01-0230 and 18-0037.
Cook County and Lake County lakes that need volunteers include: Bonanza, Bunny, Caribou, Deer Yard, East Pipe, Fox, Hogback, Mistletoe, Mound, Sawbill, and Sylvania.
Itasca County lakes that need volunteers include Batson, Bevo, Cad, Carpics, Doan, East, Johnson, Little Dick, Little East, Little Northstar, Lundeen, Moon, Orange, Pear, Pickerel, Plum, Rice, Slauson, Snow, Three Island, West Smith, and two unnamed lakes 31-0498 and 31-0661.
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 single day of the volunteer’s choosing.
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 DNR’s 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 considering volunteering in Cook, Lake, or Itasca counties can contact regional loon monitoring coordinator Bry Persing, 218-735-3962, [email protected] with any questions.
Question regarding Aitkin or Crow Wing County lakes can be directed to Karen McLennan, [email protected], 218-203-4352.
The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is supported by donations to the nongame wildlife check-off on Minnesota’s tax forms.