News release: Volunteers needed in northeastern Minnesota counties for DNR loon survey

June 27, 2024

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 28 through July 8 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,” DNR Northeast Region Nongame Wildlife Specialist Gaea Crozier said. “The data collected allows us to track changes in the loon population over time 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 then report these observations to the DNR for data analysis.

Aitkin and Crow Wing County lakes that need volunteers include Lily, Spruce, Sweetman and Thirty-One.

Cook and Lake County lakes that need volunteers include Artlip, Bonanza, Bulge, Caribou, Cross River, Dick, Fox, Little Wilson, Peterson, Rice, Slip, Silver and Silver Island.

Itasca County lakes that need volunteers include Batson, Big Island, Bill’s, Doan, Ethel, Highland, Little East, Pear, Pickeral, Plum, Snow, and unnamed lake 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 per lake of the volunteer’s choosing during the June 28 to July 8 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 2017 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 webpage 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 at 218-735-3962 or [email protected] with any questions. Questions regarding Aitkin or Crow Wing County lakes can be directed to Karen McLennan at [email protected] or 218-203-4352.

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

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