September 19, 2017
A Lucky Loon
- as seen by -Lisa Walker
It was the first day of our annual trip up to the Adirondacks in New York to help Dr. Nina Schoch, the Executive Director of the Adirondack Loon Center, with her summer field work with loons. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo Bird Supervisor Ken Huth and I got a call to meet up at Friends Lake with some of our teammates from the Department of Environmental Conservation before checking into camp to scout out a loon in trouble. With the help of a few concerned locals who alerted Dr. Schoch, we were able to get close to this loon and see that a large wad of fishing line was wrapped around its lower bill and neck before it dove away from us (above). Loons are nearly impossible to catch during the day unless in very bad shape so our team returned that night to capture the bird, remove the line, and release it back onto the lake.
Abandoned fishing line is dangerous to wildlife. Once an animal is caught in the line, it frequently cannot remove it themselves and usually their attempts to do so makes their situation more dangerous. The loon had already been seen struggling to consume a fish that it could remarkably still catch. A few more days, and this would have become difficult. The loon could have starved to death without intervention. This loon was lucky that the locals living on the lake were observant and contacted Dr. Schoch while it was still in good condition which makes its chance for return to a normal life very likely.
Personally, I felt this was a great win. Collaborating with others to save wildlife is our primary function at WCS.