Scientists, Volunteers Prepare For Northern Wisconsin Loon Count

LoonWatch Program Takes Survey Every 5 Years

loon, Michael Leland
Michael Leland (CC-BY).

Volunteers are getting out of bed bright and early Saturday morning to count the number of loons on northern Wisconsin lakes. It’s part of a population survey held every five years by the LoonWatch program at Northland College in Ashland.

More than 200 volunteers are heading out on at least 224 lakes in 28 northern Wisconsin counties.

LoonWatch coordinator Erica LeMoine said the goal is to get an idea of how the loon population is doing.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Loons are an indicator species. They indicate good lake health,” LeMoine explained. “Loons really need clean, clear water in order to see and pursue their prey. If you don’t have loons on your lake, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your lake is not in good health. But, it’s a good sign to have loons on your lake.”

LeMoine said loon numbers have grown from 2,400 to 4,000 on Wisconsin lakes since the program began tracking them in 1985.

The Wisconsin DNR uses the survey to guide loon management. The final tally is expected by October.