Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack program, partners and volunteers conduct popular 10th annual loon census

NEW YORK (July 22, 2010) –The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program, Adirondack residents and visitors, and other partners successfully conducted the 10th Annual New York Loon Census on Saturday, July 17.

More than 300 lakes and ponds were surveyed by more than 500 volunteers during this year’s census—up from 200 lakes and ponds last year. The data obtained during the census will be added and compared to those collected in years prior to gauge the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State.

 “The loon census not only provides vital data and insights into the status of the loon populations in the region, but it is also a great way to engage local people in meaningful conservation work,” said WCS Adirondack Program Director Zoe Smith. “Each year, our volunteers turn out and show how much they care about these iconic birds, and on the tenth anniversary of the census, we‘ve had our best showing to date.”

As part of an effort to better understand the status, structure and threats to the regional loon population, WCS initiated the loon census in 2001. One of the major findings of the annual census: The Adirondack loon population has almost doubled since the last pre-census analysis in the 1980s and now totals some 1,500 to 2,000 birds.

Presently, common loons are considered a “Species of Special Concern” in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and are listed as “Endangered” in Vermont and “Threatened” in New Hampshire and Michigan. Across the Northeast, they face myriad challenges including habitat loss, climate change, and threats from environmental toxins such as increasing mercury concentrations in the lakes where they live.

“Along with being an iconic bird of northern waters, common loons are seen as indicators of regional ecosystem health,” said WCS North American Program Director Jodi Hilty. “The census data are invaluable to our ability to spot a problem.”

After a careful review of the data forms sent in by volunteers, the results of the last 10 years of the loon census will be announced by WCS next spring, just in time for Adirondack residents and visitors to anticipate the return of the summer loon population. Censuses like the one conducted in the Adirondacks occurred in other northeastern states as well on Saturday to provide a more comprehensive look at population numbers throughout the region. The results of census efforts will help to guide management decisions and policies that affect loons.

If you’d like to join the census in 2011, contact WCS’ Adirondack Office at 518-891-8872 or adkloon@wcs.org.

Media Contacts:
Scott C. Smith: (1-718-220-3698; ssmith@wcs.org)
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation