Maine Audubon and partners receive grant for loon restoration

In 2003, 98,000 gallons of oil spilled in Buzzards Bay from a tank barge called Bouchard B-120. An estimated 531 Common Loons, overwintering in Buzzards Bay (off the coasts of MA and RI), died from direct or indirect impacts from this spill. Now, a natural resources damage settlement from this spill, announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 16, has led to funding for restoration of loons on their breeding grounds, and Maine Audubon is pleased to be one of the funding recipients. 

Maine Audubon’s proposal, A Comprehensive Approach by Maine Partners to Restore Common Loon Losses Resulting from the B-120 Oil Spill, was awarded $825,445. This project is a collaboration between Maine Audubon, Maine Lakes, Lakes Environmental Association, and the Penobscot Indian Nation. 

Maine is fortunate to house the largest Common Loon population in the Northeast and this grant will allow biologists and community scientists to expand efforts to recover loon losses from the oil spill and safeguard the future of this population.

“We’re excited to partner with lake associations, loon counters, and other community scientists throughout the state to enhance breeding success and reduce mortality to benefit the state’s loon population,” said Maine Audubon Wildlife Ecologist Tracy Hart. The project will include the use of artificial nests and signs where appropriate, an expanded Fish Lead Free Program, and the expansion of a volunteer Loon Ranger program. 

The goals of the grant are to increase productivity and survival of nesting Common Loons at breeding sites across New England and New York. State and federal environmental agencies selected six projects in all—five comprehensive management projects and one land acquisition—to receive funding to restore common loons affected by the B-120 oil spill. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be administering the grants and providing funds to projects in New England and New York. 

Photo (above): A loon raft on Echo Lake in Mount Desert Island, viewed on a recent training session. The four partners are already hard at work with training on how to find and select the best spots for placing rafts, and how to monitor the nests and families after the eggs hatch. Photo by Michelle Duffy/Maine Audubon.