Today, in Massachusetts there about 50 pairs of loons left and environmentalists seek ways to restore the existing populations by importing 10 chicks from two other states. The move is part of a program run by the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland called Restore the Call.
The new chicks, which will be taken from New York’s and Maine’s lakes, will be placed in south of Boston by the end of the summer. The institute’s head David Evers acknowledged that the effort may not seem much, but he is optimistic for the future.
- Loons which had once thrived in The Bay State were wiped out by the end of the 19th century.
- Their populations declined mostly because reckless hunting and huge losses in their natural habitat.
- In 1898, conservationists spotted the last loon eggs close to a lake in south Boston.
In the 1970s, the beloved birds returned, but up to this day the state has only 45 pairs. Conservationists now hope to establish at least one more breeding pair. Evers explained that it takes just one pair to have young which will later establish territories and start reproducing.
On the other hand, loons take quite some time before they breed because they need to be several years old to do it. So, experts don’t expect current population to be restored very fast. Wildlife biologists also noted that loons need a high-quality natural setting with no disturbances to be able to thrive.
Yet, Massachusetts is not the only state with a loon problem. The iconic bird’s habitat has shrunk all over the U.S. in recent years. It was wiped out in Oregon and vanished from some areas in Washington, Montana, Idaho and Michigan.
New Hampshire granted the bird a threatened species status since of 234 chicks that hatched in 2015 more than a quarter did not make it to adulthood.
Currently, in the U.S. there are about 14,000 pairs of loons. Canadians fare a little better, as the bird is a national symbol, but chemical pollution of lakes also threatens the birds.
New York and Maine which will donate the loon pairs to Massachusetts have about 1,000 and 2,000 loon pairs respectively. The Biodiversity Research Institute has made a similar attempt to restore loon populations in Minnesota, and it is planning to add Wyoming to the list.
Image Source: Flickr