Information Sought on Loon Incident as Population Declines

Ossipee — July 28, 2007 — In a letter to the Carroll County Independent, a Center Ossipee woman says she hopes boaters will come forward if they witnessed a man on a jet-ski harassing loons and Canada geese near Indian Mound on Wednesday, July 18th.Lilian Van Blarcom of Center Ossipee wrote that she watched the jet skier deliberately circle several sets of parent loons and geese that were attempting to protect their babies.

Van Blarcom said she could not stop the attack because she was watching through binoculars from a porch on the shore. When the jet skier realized he was being watched, he left the scene, she said, leaving the geese scattered and the baby loon nowhere to be seen.

Anyone who has information on the incident can report it by calling the Marine Patrol dispatch officer at 603-293-2037.

The incident comes on the heels of the release of preliminary numbers from New Hampshire’s annual loon census showing lower counts in the northern part of the State compared to recent years.

“Basically it confirms what we already know; the loon population is in a decrease,” said Rachel Williams, manager of the Loon Preservation Committee’s Loon Center in Moultonboro who said the State’s loon population has dropped about 44 percent over the past four years.

“They’re a threatened bird in New Hampshire,” she said.

New Hampshire’s loon population suffered a devastating setback last winter when 17 loons on Lake Winnipesaukee were trapped and died as lake ice formed later than usual because of unusually warm winter weather. Only two birds were rescued.

Williams said many of the pairs that returned to their territories this summer are not nesting. She said one possible reason is the rising number of people on the shoreline. The birds can’t walk on land and must nest at the waters edge. With more development in the state, not much room is left for the loons, Williams said.

Until recently, New Hampshire was experiencing an increase in loons. Last year’s final census numbers showed the state was home to about 600 loons. The number is much lower than states in the northwest and parts of Canada, but it’s about double the number that called the state home when the Loon Center first opened in 1976.

People can help protect loons by minimizing disturbances along shorelines and being responsible about putting man-made materials such as lead sinkers into the water, Williams said.

She added that the sinkers are illegal in the state and are one of the most common causes of unnatural loon deaths.

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