Yesterday, we received a report of an adult female on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage who swallowed a fishing lure with multiple hooks on it. The bird was severely wounded, was captured, and has been taken by a wildlife rehabber to see if it can be saved surgically. However, this is a longshot. Although this female was apparently not a territorial bird, her sad situation reminds me of the many territorial adults — important chick producers which help support the population — who die fishing-related deaths each year. Loons are rather poor colonizers of lakes. That is, a pair develops a strong bond with a territory and often produces many chicks there. If the pair dies, especially the male, who is in charge of nest placement for each breeding attempt, a territory can fall into disuse or be settled by a new male that is a klutz in nesting and is not able to find safe nesting sites. So loss of a successful breeder can have a serious negative impact on local chick production. This is why I mourn each loss of a territorial breeder to an avoidable death from a fishing lure or lead sinker. Recent deaths that have hurt chick production in the study area have occurred on Squash, Hildebrand and Carrol Lakes.

Now, I am a fisherman myself. I have always enjoyed throwing a lure in the water. Angling will always be a rich and important part of recreational life in Wisconsin. But, like me, please: 1) try to be careful not to fish when loons are nearby, and 2) replace your lead sinkers with alternatives like tin, steel, tungsten or granite (yes….granite!).


The lakes are opening, and 4 May (Saturday) is our first full day out covering the study area.  We appreciate the reports we have gotten from many of you about the status of ice on your lakes. Kudos to some folks who have raised the bar by verifying all color bands on their territorial pairs already. Awesome! We have gotten reports from DNR that many loons have become stranded this year because of poor weather and few open lakes and have landed in puddles from which they cannot fly out. (These birds are being reported and are getting help.) Keep Wild Instincts (wildlife rehabbers near Rhinelander) in mind, if you see loons in trouble.