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Minnesota DNR looking for Otter Tail County loon survey volunteers

Volunteers are needed for one day during the July 2-12 monitoring period to count the number of loons on certain lakes.

Loon Survey
The Minnesota DNR needs volunteers to help with a loon survey. (Forum News Service file photo)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to help monitor the loon population in Otter Tail County. Volunteers are needed for one day during the July 2-12 monitoring period to count the number of loons on certain lakes.

For the past 20 years, with the assistance of hundreds of volunteer observers, the DNR has gathered information about common loon numbers on more than 600 lakes distributed among six regions, or "index areas,” throughout the state.

The annual loon count gives the DNR the ability to detect changes in the loon population and identify potential management needs and opportunities.

Volunteers can choose one or more of the following lakes on which to count the number of adult and juvenile loons. They will then report these observations to the DNR for data analysis.

The Otter Tail County lakes that need volunteers include:


  • Crooked
  • Elbow
  • Horseshoe
  • Johannes
  • Long
  • Loon
  • Moen
  • Onstad
  • Round
  • South Turtle
  • Stalker
  • Tamarack
  • Unnamed 56-0743
  • Unnamed 56-0439
  • Unnamed 56-0446
  • Unnamed 56-0668
  • Volen

The time commitment is one to four hours per lake. Surveys must be done between 5 a.m. and 12 p.m. on one day during the monitoring period. Volunteers are asked to observe all applicable boating safety guidelines.

Volunteers must commit to completing one or more assigned lakes. Surveys can be conducted from the shore on smaller lakes, or by boat or canoe on larger lakes.

Volunteers use an online system to view maps and information for their lakes, reserve and manage their lake assignments, and print data collection sheets. The online system was funded by a donation from the Minnesota United professional soccer team, whose mascot is a loon.

To sign up as a loon survey volunteer and select a lake, go to the DNR’s loon monitoring program page ( dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/mlmp_state.html ) and select “Volunteer Map.”

People considering volunteering can contact northwest regional loon monitoring coordinator Jerica Loken at 218-671-7977 with any questions.

The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is supported by donations to the nongame wildlife check-off on Minnesota’s tax forms.

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