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Loon on Lake Ozonia, submitted as Photo of the Day 7/7/10. Photo: Joe Woody
Loon on Lake Ozonia, submitted as Photo of the Day 7/7/10. Photo: Joe Woody

DEC steps up loon protection

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Environmental officials say they've seen an "unusual" amount of loon harassment in the Adirondacks this summer.

As Jonathan Brown reports, police with the state's Department of Environmental Conservation issued three tickets for separate incidents in June and July.

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Environmental officials say they've seen an "unusual" amount of loon harassment in the Adirondacks this summer. Officers with the state's Department of Environmental Conservation issued three tickets for separate incidents in June and July.

"We received reports in two cases young people harassing loons. One case they actually destroyed a loon egg. In another case, a 16-year-old male on a personal watercraft was trying to run over a family of loons," said Dave Winchell, DEC spokesman for the Adirondack region.

The common loon is protected by the federal government. Federal penalties for intentional harassment can net a $5000 fine and up to six months in jail.

And the state can issue a fine of up to $250 and jail the offender for 15 days.
"It's upsetting that that behavior occurred. And we're trying to get the word out to let people know this is not acceptable behavior," said Winchell. "It's illegal to do what they did. And that we are going to take enforcement action when we're aware of these things."

Winchell says his office has heard from a lot of people who've been upset by these cases. But he says on average people on motorboats and jet skis are not the usual culprits. Sometimes it's loon-lovers: "It's often canoers and kayakers that are more likely to harass loons, particularly loons on their nest. Mainly because loons nest on the shallows by the shore and motorboats can't get into those areas. In some cases, obviously not in these, but people may just be curious and want to approach the loon. But this is not good for the loon or its eggs on the nest," said Winchell.

He says people should stay 500 feet away from loons and their nest--he recommends using binoculars or a camera to get a closer look. And he said, if you're going out on the water, learn the loons' different vocalizations and what they mean.

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