Part 5 of an interview series with Dr. Piper, founder of The Loon Project, a 20 year study of loon behavior in Oneida County, Wisconsin.
NorthernWisconsin.com: Do you have a favorite memory or story from your Northern Wisconsin loon experiences so far?
Dr. Piper: After two decades of working in northern Wisconsin, I have lots of good memories. Many of these come from friendships I have made with folks who live on our study lakes.
However, one of my warmest memories was of saving a loon’s life who had become entangled in monofilament fishing line in 2009. This bird, a female nonbreeder, had fishing line on her head, wings and legs. She was a mess. She was also rather skittish and would dive, albeit awkwardly, whenever we got within 20 yards in a canoe. Still, it was awful to watch how she struggled, and it was clear that she was unable to move about effectively. So we decided that we must try and free her from the line.
We waited for nightfall to try and find her in our spotlight and net her. She was not quite as evasive at night as during the daytime, and we were lucky to catch her on the first try. Once we were back on shore, it took only a few minutes to snip the line off her body. We banded her too, since she was in good condition. She has not settled on a territory yet, but we have seen her as a territorial intruder each year since.
NorthernWisconsin.com: Your research and findings are fascinating. Is there any way northern Wisconsin residents or visitors can help you with your research?
Dr. Piper: We find it very helpful to have people report loon battles and loon injuries to us so that we can learn from this behavior and also get help for struggling loons. We are only able to visit our study lakes for an hour every 4-5 days, so we often miss exciting territorial contests. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, while we are not qualified to rehabilitate wildlife, we know that you can contact Wild Instincts to get help for injured loons.
More from Dr. Piper and The Loon Project discoveries:
[Image: Courtesy of Dan Salisbury via The Loon Project]