2017 loon chick count lowest ever recorded on Squam Lake

  • A male loon sits in the middle of Halfmoon Lake in Barnstead last summer. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 8/23/2017 1:25:24 PM

The Loon Preservation Committee reports that only a single loon chick hatched on Squam Lake in 2017, the lowest number of hatchlings since the group began monitoring the situation in 1975.

The group is asking people to keep all boats away from the area marked by signs reading “Caution: Loon Chick.”

“If the adult shows any signs of distress such as stretching its neck low over the water, swimming away, or vocalizing, please give them more space,” said the group in a statement.

“It’s a full-time job for two loon parents to raise one or two loon chicks over the course of the summer” said Harry Vogel, Senior Biologist and Executive Director of the Loon Preservation Committee. “I The best way to observe loons is with a good pair of binoculars. The best way to photograph them is with a long telephoto lens.”

Squam Lake lost 44 percent of its paired loons in 2004-2005; and, since that time, breeding success has remained at less than half that of the statewide level.

This is the first year since LPC began monitoring Squam Lake in 1975 that only one chick has hatched on the lake.

Like loons throughout New Hampshire, loons on Squam are facing multiple threats, but results to date suggest that elevated levels of chemical contamination in Squam Lake and rates of lead fishing tackle mortality have likely contributed to the declines of Squam’s loon population.

Loons are a threatened species in New Hampshire and are protected by state and federal laws from hunting or harassment, including following adults with chicks.

If you see a sick or injured loon, call the Loon Preservation Committee (603-476-5666), or if you observe harassment of loons, please contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (603-271-3361) or Marine Patrol (603-293-2037) for assistance.

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