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Injured or Dead Loon?

Minnesota Contact Numbers

National Loon Center: 218-692-LOON (5666)

DNR Information Center (St. Paul): 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367)

Wild and Free (Garrison): 320-692-4180

Northwoods Wildlife Rescue (Park Rapids): 218-616-2176

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (Roseville): 651-486-9453

Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release (Crystal): 612-822-7058

Turn in Poachers (TIP) Hotline: 800-652-9093

Important Information

Rescues and transport can be very stressful to wild animals, including loons. We should only intervene when necessary, e.g. injury as a result of human activity. Aggressive territorial battles between loons are natural occurrences in their lives and not typically a cause for intervention. To determine if the behavior of the loon you are observing is of concern, call the National Loon Center.  NLC staff are available to field calls on injured loons during regular office hours (Monday through Friday 8am-4pm). Outside of these hours:

  1. Call the Minnesota DNR for injured loons or incidents of loons being harassed by people. Ask for the local nongame wildlife specialist or conservation officer. Use the MN DNR’s Office Locator tool to contact your local DNR office. The common loon is a federally protected species. To report incidents of a loon being harassed, call the TIP Hotline.
  2. Contact a wildlife rehabilitation center. Check Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release’s list of permitted Minnesota facilities to find your nearest rehabilitator.

The summer is a busy season for wildlife professionals and rehabilitators. There is a chance your call may be outside of working hours or staff are unavailable to immediately respond. You should continue to monitor the loon. It may be that it is best to leave the bird in the wild and let it recover on its own, depending on the nature of the injury.

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Loon Mortalities

To help prevent further loon mortalities, the National Loon Center is facilitating necropsy research. If you find a dead adult or juvenile loon that is not badly decomposed, click on “Loon Mortality Forms” to find important background information and the data sheet. Then follow the steps outlined below.

Loon Mortality Forms

Photograph

Take a photo of the loon in the conditions it was found.

Wear Gloves

If it is safe to do so, wear gloves to retrieve the loon.

Double Bag

Use two garbage bags to double bag the loon.

Freeze

Place the loon immediately into a freezer to prevent further decomposition.

Write Down Data

Fill out the Loon Mortality Data Sheet found above

Call

Call the NLC at 218-692-5666 to arrange a pick up. There may be a waiting period before staff can drive out.

Northeast

Reporting injured loons in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.

More Information

Midwest

Reporting injured loons in Michigan, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

More Information

West/Northwest

Reporting injured loons in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming.

More Information

How You Can Keep Loons Safe

Loon-Safe Fishing

Making the switch to lead-free tackle prevents loons from succumbing to lead poisoning. Loons can consume lead via jigs and sinkers that sink to the lake bottom, consuming fish containing tackle, or going after active lines. Properly disposing of fishing lines and tackle prevents loon from becoming tangled in the line or accidently swallow jigs and sinkers with lines still attached. Taking your lines out of the water when loons are swimming/diving nearby also prevents entanglement. Find Lead-Free Tackle

Loon-Safe Boating

Observe no-wake zones within 200 feet of the shoreline. Loons nest in protected bays, marshy areas along the shoreline, or islands. Strong wakes can flood out nests. While out on the water, keep a watchful eye out for loons, especially young chicks, swimming and diving. Boat collisions with loons do happen and have likely accounted for 2 chick and 3 adult loon mortalities of 10 identified mortality events by the NLC since necropsy studies began in 2021. Be Wake Aware

Lake-Friendly Living

There are many steps we can take to keep our freshwater lakes clean for both loons and people. Following Clean, Drain, Dry decontamination practices helps stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Loons depend on clear water to find prey and feed their young. Keeping pollutants out of the water and carrying trash out helps keep the lakes clean. Restoring your shoreline or creating a natural buffer zone helps stop runoff from getting into the lakes. Restore Your Shore