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Black Fly Outbreak Hurts Loon Nesting As LoonWatch Calls For Survey Volunteers

Emily Stone

An outbreak of black flies is having major impacts on loon nesting in northern Wisconsin this spring.

This year, the peak of black fly activity has overlapped with the nesting season for loons in the Northwoods.

It’s similar to what happened in 2014, according to Erica LeMoine, the LoonWatch Program Director.

“It’s very irritating to the loons, as you can imagine. It causes them, often times, to leave the nest and leave the nest unattended. Sometimes, if it’s a particularly bad year, as it is this year, they will abandon their first nesting attempt,” LeMoine said.

This spring, LoonWatch is conducting a population survey, which it does every five years.

It expects loon populations will have fallen from the 2015 survey due to effects of climate change and other manmade factors.

But the survey needs more volunteers, which it calls loon rangers.

Usually, 400 volunteers sign up, but it’s missing several volunteers due to limited travel from the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are actively recruiting volunteers throughout northern Wisconsin to help us with this really important population survey,” LeMoine said.

If you’d like to volunteer, follow this link.

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