The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for help monitoring loons on lakes again this summer.

The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is a long-term project of the Nongame Wildlife Program. Hundreds of volunteers collect information about common loon numbers on more than 600 lakes. These lakes are distributed among six regions, or index areas.

The DNR uses loon behavior to collect data about lakes. For example, loons are great indicators of water quality because they need clean, clear water to catch food.

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If you want to get involved with the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program, the DNR is still seeking volunteers for select areas. Volunteers visit each lake one morning during a 10-day period in the summer (last week of June, into the first week of July) and count the number of adult and juvenile loons, then share that information with the DNR. It's super simple to do, and provides really valuable information. Plus you get to spend time at the lake.

The only gear you need to be part of this project is a pair of binoculars, and maybe a boat or canoe, depending on the lake. Survey time depends on the lake size you are monitoring:

  • Small lakes (<150 acres) 30 to 60 minutes
  • Medium lakes (150 - 400 acres) 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • Lake lakes (>400 acres) 2 to 4 hours

There are still a few lakes that need volunteers in Kandiyohi, Crow Wing County, Becker, Itasca, Lake, and Ottertail counties. Take a look at the list of lakes that still need volunteers to monitor the loons this summer. You might happen to spend a lot of time at one of them and could be a huge help to this research program.

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