The common loon is an icon of the North Woods, a symbol of wilderness, and sometimes the object of harassment.
On June 12, two teenage boys frightened a loon off its nest on Sixth Lake, in Inlet, and struck the nest with a canoe paddle, breaking an egg, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. DEC ticketed the boys’ guardian for destroying the nest of a protected bird—on the theory that the guardian must answer for the boys’ actions. The maximum penalty is a $250 fine and fifteen days in jail.
The good news is that the remaining egg in the nest hatched.
On July 21, a teenage boy ski was seen harassing two adult loons and three juvenile birds by buzzing them with a jet-ski on Raquette Pond, part of Tupper Lake, according to DEC. “Loons, and especially young loons, have limited capacity to repeatedly dive below the surface to avoid such boating harassment, and it is unknown if any loons were injured or killed,” the agency said in a news release. The boy was charged with illegally taking protected wildlife and several violations of state Navigation Law. The fines could add up to as much as $900.
In a third incident, DEC received a complaint on July 12 that boaters were harassing nesting loons on Raquette Lake. Although two eggs from the nest eventually hatched, DEC is investigating the incident.
In other loon news, DEC yesterday rescued an adult bird that was sitting in a roadway in Arietta in Hamilton County (loons need to take flight from water). Environmental Conservation Officer Peter Buswell and Lt. Harold Barber bundled the loon in a raincoat and transported it to North Country Wild Care in Warrensburg for rehabilitation.
Although its population has increased in recent decades, the common loon remains a species of special concern in New York State. Wildlife Conservation Society recently completed its annual loon census in the Adirondacks. The data are still being analyzed.
Click here to read DEC’s news release on the loon incidents.