The Northland College Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute LoonWatch program announced today that Wisconsin loons are doing surprisingly well, according to the results of the 2015 one-day Wisconsin Loon Population Survey.
According to the most recent results, the adult loon population is estimated at 4,350, an increase of 9.1 percent from 2010, and the chick population is estimated at 834, an increase of 37.8 percent.
“I’m surprised and pleased,” said LoonWatch Coordinator Erica LeMoine. “Between the 2010 Gulf oil spill and 2012 botulism outbreak they’ve faced extraordinary challenges over the last five years, so this is good news.”
The survey has been conducted every five years since 1985. Some 210 volunteers collected data July 18, 2015, surveying 204 lakes in twenty-seven northern Wisconsin counties.
LeMoine credits the improved population, in part, to improved communication about loons, expanding volunteers, and the LoonWatch Get the Lead Out! program.
“LoonWatch has had a positive impact educating interested lake residents and visitors about good loon conservation practices — reaching tens of thousands of people since it started in 1978,” LeMoine said. “And these loon enthusiasts are incredible stewards and ambassadors for this iconic bird of the north.”
The Wisconsin Loon Population Survey is the longest running and only statewide survey of loons. “The survey is vital to collecting baseline data and assessing the effectiveness of current conservation efforts with the loon population,” LeMoine said.
In the past, the survey has been coordinated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Science Services. This year, due to serious cuts in science staff, the WDNR was unable to participate and LoonWatch was left to hire a statistician.
“We hope this gets remedied and we’re back working with the DNR for the 2020 Wisconsin Loon Population Survey,” LeMoine said.