Recently we helped out Vermont Center for Ecostudies biologist Eric Hanson with a loon project. When the general public or a park ranger find a loon that has passed away they turn them into Eric. He and his colleagues will then perform a necropsy (which is an autopsy for animals) to get clues about how they died, what diseases they may have etc. We took radiographs of the loons to look for lead sinkers which have been banned in Vermont because they are harmful to wildlife. They show up on the radiograph as a bright white spot. We did not see any sinkers but one of the birds we radiographed had a fungal disease in the lungs. All of this information put together is helpful in determining the overall health of our loon population. In 1983 there were only about 29 loons counted by biologists in Vermont. Efforts such as banning lead fishing sinkers, management and public education have helped the population rebound to 300-500 adult loons today. To learn more about these beautiful birds visit vtecostudies.org
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