The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation (ACLC) is very pleased to announce it helped save two juvenile loons after they were severely tangled in fishing gear.
The first loon was found Sept. 14 on Trout Lake with a large treble-hook lure that had become ensnared in both its feet. Local residents, Lynne Butterworth and John Rendinaro, reported the loon to Dr. Nina Schoch, Executive Director of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, who provided guidance in how to catch the loon. Ellie George, one of the ACLC’s field staff, and her husband, Cal, removed the hooks and lure from the loon’s feet, and then brought the injured bird to Dr. Schoch, who cleaned its wounds, treated it with antibiotics and fluids, and banded it to aid in subsequent observations.
The second loon was one that the ACLC had previously banded in August on Lake Colby. Mark Epstein reported the loon to Dr. Schoch with photos showing that the loon had a lure wedged in its mouth, with fishing line tightly wrapped around its lower beak and neck. The ACLC staff successfully captured the loon Friday evening with the assistance of Mark and local residents Debbie and Dr. Roger Neill. Sadly, it was found that the loon’s injuries were more severe than the photos had indicated, as it had an older wound around the fish hook that was deeply embedded in the side of its neck, two lures caught in its mouth, and fishing line wrapped many times around its tongue, causing deep wounds. After several minutes, Dr. Schoch was able to successfully remove all the line and the hook. She then cleaned its wounds and treated it with antibiotics and fluids prior to its release.
“We are very pleased to know that both loons have been observed acting normally since their release, diving, feeding, and swimming,” said Dr. Schoch. “It is extremely rewarding to have saved these two young birds from certain death.” As a wildlife rehabilitator, Dr. Schoch has also rescued many other birds that were tangled in line and lures, including a barred owl and an immature mallard duck within the past two weeks.
Fishing line and tackle entanglement is one of the most common causes of a loon needing rescue, and it is easily preventable. Anglers can help protect loons and other wildlife by recycling abandoned line and by participating in the Loon Center’s Lead Tackle Buy-Back Program. If an angler accidentally hooks a loon, they should try to reel it in and remove the hook, or at least cut any line as short as possible. They should also notify the Loon Center so that the injured loon can be monitored and caught if it needs treatment.
Over the next few years, the Loon Center will be establishing a loon rescue and rehabilitation facility at SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb, NY. This facility will enable the Loon Center to better diagnose and treat the growing number of injured and debilitated loons it rescues each year. To help support the creation of this facility, contact Dr. Schoch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 354-8636.
Photo taken by Mark Epstein, provided by Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation