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VOLUNTEER LOON COUNTERS NEEDED IN BECKER AND OTTER TAIL COUNTIES

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DNR News—For Immediate Release May 21, 2007

For more information, contact Katie Haws, Nongame Program, 218-755-2976

VOLUNTEER LOON COUNTERS NEEDED IN BECKER AND OTTER TAIL COUNTIES

Minnesota's state bird, the Common Loon, needs your help, says DNR

Nongame Wildlife Specialist Katie Haws. Volunteers are needed to

participate in an on-going population survey, to monitor the health of

the loon population throughout the state. The Minnesota DNR has

coordinated this annual loon survey, called the "Minnesota Loon

Monitoring Project", since 1994, making this the 14th year of

the survey.

Volunteers form the bulk of the inventory crew, and each year over 400

volunteers participate in this survey. This project is a comprehensive

project which seeks to document loon occupancy and productivity rates on

several hundred Minnesota lakes located in six separate index areas

across the state. Results of the survey allow the Nongame Program to

detect long-term changes in loon population health.

According to Haws, "this long term monitoring effort has been very

successful. We've found out that loon productivity (number of chicks

hatched), is quite stable, and we've also been able to compare loon

lake use in six different parts of the state." Both Becker and

Ottertail Counties have stable occupancy and productivity trends, with

Becker having higher loon nesting densities.

However, states Haws," the future of the survey may be in doubt if

enough volunteers cannot be found to facilitate an adequate sample

size." According to Haws, many volunteers have faithfully assisted

with the survey since the beginning, but due to advancing age, are

unable to continue this obligation. In addition, she states that

"with the added development pressures occurring in the area, it is

vital to continue monitoring loon populations to detect any potential

problems." A total of approximately 35 additional volunteers is

needed to count loons in Becker and Otter Tail Counties.

Volunteers are assigned a specific lake to survey in the Becker and

Otter Tail County areas, and only one survey is made, between June 30th

and July 12th, 2007. Lakes vary in size and many can be surveyed from

shore, while others will require the use of a boat or canoe. Volunteer

surveyors complete a data form for each lake, recording the number of

adult and juvenile loons counted during the survey. The entire survey

requires a commitment of several hours during one day.

"The loon survey offers volunteers a unique opportunity to enjoy some

time outdoors, while helping Minnesota's state bird" explained Haws.

Interested potential loon survey volunteers should contact Katie Haws at

the NW Regional DNR office, in Bemidji, MN, on or before May 30, 2007;

phone 218-755-2976; or e-mail katie.haws@dnr.state.mn.us

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