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Volunteers needed in Becker, Otter Tail counties for DNR loon survey

The DNR needs volunteers to help with a loon survey in Becker and Otter Tail counties. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking volunteers to help monitor the loon population in Becker and Otter Tail counties in northwestern Minnesota. Volunteers are needed for one day during the June 28 through July 8 monitoring period.

For the past 19 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 survey offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while being part of a team that monitors the health and welfare of Minnesota’s state bird,” said Christine Herwig, DNR Northwest Region nongame specialist. “The results allow the DNR to detect long-term changes in loon population health and help assess impacts of events like the Gulf oil spill and ongoing lakeshore development.”

Volunteers can choose one (or more) of the following lakes to count the number of adult and juvenile loons seen and report these observations to the DNR for data analysis. The time commitment is two to four hours per lake. Surveys must be done between 5 a.m.-noon on one day during the monitoring period.

Volunteers must commit to completing one or more assigned lakes and consider participating in the program for multiple years. Surveys can be conducted from shore or by boat or canoe. DNR will provide detailed instructions, training materials, maps and a data form.

The survey wouldn’t be possible without volunteers, Herwig said.

Lakes that need volunteers include:

Becker County: Bass, Big Rat, Big Rock, Buffalo, Elbow, Fish, Gable, Height of Land, Howe, Ice Cracking, Island, Little Bemidji, Little Cotton, Little Mud, Little Rat, Miller’s, Mud (T140, R38, S17), Mud (T139, R39, S21), Pike, Rock, Sieverson (Sivertson), Twentyfive, Spring.

Otter Tail County: Bass, Bray, Brown, Crooked, Dane, Eagle, East Battle, Ethel, Evans, First Silver, Fiske, German, Glorvigan, Heilberger, Horseshoe, Leeper, Little North Turtle, Long, Maine, Moen, Molly Stark, Nelson, North Turtle, Pleasant, Round, Second Silver, Sharp, South Nelson, South Turtle, Sproul, Stuart, Tamarack, Twin, Wall, West Battle and West Lost.

People interested in being a volunteer loon surveyor should contact Sherry Wright, Northwest Region, at 218-308-2620 or

For more information about loons or about the survey contact, Christine Herwig at 218-308-2641 or