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July 02. 2014 7:30PM

Loon activists urge boater holiday caution

MOULTONBOROUGH — Loons may be protected by the government, but loon preservation specialists say lots of disruption and death of young birds occurs over holiday weekends.

“People see the loons, and they want to get closer because they are cute, or they don’t see them at all and they hit them crossing the lake,” said Harry Vogel, senior biologist/executive director of the Loon Preservation Committee.

This July 4th weekend, the committee is asking people to play it safe when it comes to loons on New Hampshire lakes and ponds. Vogel said boaters should stay at least 150 feet away from adult loons and their chicks.

“People may or may not see them when the loons cross the lake. We’re asking boaters to keep a close eye on what’s ahead of them,” Vogel said.“Also, when boaters see them in coves, remember that the parent loons have full-time jobs to do, and anything any of us do to disturb what they are doing can cause problems, maybe even deaths.”

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

The Loon Preservation Committee was created in 1975 in response to concerns about a dramatically declining loon population and the effects of human activities on loons.

Its mission is to restore and maintain a healthy population of loons throughout New Hampshire, to monitor the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality, and to promote a greater understanding of loons and the larger natural world.

For more than 35 years, the Loon Preservation Committee has undertaken state-wide monitoring, research, management and outreach to preserve loons and their habitats. The committee has a large grassroots network of more than 1,500 members and volunteers.Last year, the Loon Preservation Committee recorded 157 loon chicks hatched, but nearly a quarter of them did not survive, Vogel said.

Vogel also urged anglers to use non-leaded sinkers and avoid poisoning the birds. The Legislature has ruled that all lead sinkers under 1 ounce must be replaced with non-lead sinkers by 2016.

dseufert@newstote.com


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