Squam Lakes Loon Report - August 6, 2018

By Tiffany Grade, Loon Preservation Committee


This past weekend was a very sad one on the Squam Lakes.  Loon
Preservation Committee received several reports of a loon tangled in
fishing line on Little Squam over the weekend, and I was able to capture
it on Sunday.  The loon was severely debilitated, underweight, and fishing
line was wound tightly around its bill and neck.  I took the loon to
Capital Area Veterinary Emergency and Specialty (CAVES) in Concord, where
an x-ray revealed a mass in the loons throat, which the vet attributed to
the line being wound so tightly around its neck that the loon was unable
to swallow food, and a lot of tackle in the loon’s gizzard.  Sadly, there
was no choice but to euthanize this loon.  The only relief in this
terrible situation is that the loon was not one of the pair with the chick
on Little Squam.  Thank you very much to everyone who called in to report
this loon to us, to the boater who pointed out to me where the loon was
tucked in near shore and helped with the capture, to everyone at Squam
Boat Livery for their assistance as I was coordinating logistics to get
the loon to a vet, and to the veterinarians and staff at CAVES for caring
for this loon in its final moments.  I am so grateful to everyone who came
together to help this loon and only wish the outcome had been very

The fate of this loon provides a harsh reminder of the need for everyone
to practice responsible fishing practices—to always use only non-lead
fishing tackle and to reel in fishing lines when loons are in the
vicinity.  Many baits are intended to look like small fish or crayfish,
and a loon’s instinct is to strike at something that flashes past it that
it thinks is a food item.  Sadly, as in the case of this loon, what the
loon thinks is something to eat may be a fishing lure.  You may remember
we had an immature loon tangled in fishing line that died last fall on
Squam as well.  Please help spread the word to anglers to reel their lines
in and wait until a loon has left the area—otherwise, they may end up with
a loon on the end of their line instead of a fish.  And please help spread
the word to anglers to always use only non-lead fishing tackle.  Lead
tackle can be dropped off for safe disposal at The Loon Center, all New
Hampshire Fish and Game offices, and the Squam Lakes Association.  For
more information on lead-free fishing, please visit
www.fishleadfree.org/nh/ .  Thank you for your help getting the word out
about safe and responsible angling practices.

On a happier note, all 4 chicks on Squam Lake and the chick on Little
Squam continue to do well!  Many thanks to those of you who have kept an
eye on these loon families and have participated in Loon Chick Watch!  If
you would like to volunteer for Loon Chick Watch, please read about the program below. 

Thank you for your interest in Squam’s loon!

Volunteer for SLA Loon Chick Watch Program!

Want to help protect loon chicks on the Squam Lakes? The Squam Lakes Association and the Loon Preservation Committee partner together to build this program and train volunteers to help protect chicks during the height of breeding season – June to August. If you are interested in this program, please contact SLA's Community Engagement Coordinator, Melissa Leszek by email, or call (603) 968-7336 x11.