MOULTONBOROUGH — The Loon Preservation Committee said someone tampered with loon nesting sign on Squam Lake, leading to the loss of loon eggs.

According to the statement, someone unhooked the warning sign from the rope line, causing it to drift toward the nest site, resulting in boaters getting too close and flushing the incubating loon from the nest. The eggs then were taken by a predator.

Loons are a threatened species in New Hampshire, and are protected by state and federal laws, including while they are on a nest or on the water with chicks.

Anyone who has any information about the incident should contact the Loon Preservation Committee or the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

According to the committee, Squam Lake’s loons face multiple co-occurring stressors.

"The recent incident highlights just how susceptible loons are to contact with humans or human structures. Squam Lake lost 44 percent of its paired loons in 2004-2005.  Although the adult population has since rebounded, breeding success remains at less than half that of the statewide level," the committee said.

Last year was the first year since the committee began monitoring the lake in 1975 that only one chick hatched on the lake. The group has been conducting intensive research, monitoring, management, and outreach efforts to understand the causes of the declines of Squam’s loon population and to restore a healthy population of loons to the lake.

Data suggest that elevated levels of chemical contamination in Squam Lake and high rates of lead fishing tackle mortality have contributed to the declines of Squam’s loon population.

“This was a very disturbing way to lose one of Squam’s loon nests,” said Tiffany Grade, Squam Lake Project biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee. “Given the difficulties Squam’s loons have faced in recent years to nest successfully and raise chicks, losing one of Squam’s loon nests to sabotage at the nest site is particularly unfortunate.”

The Squam Lakes Association in partnership with the Loon Preservation Committee warn that boaters, including kayakers, canoers, and paddleboarders, should give nesting loons and adults with chicks plenty of space — at least 150 feet from loons — so the parents can concentrate on taking care of themselves and their chicks. Boaters should give loons more space if they show any signs of distress, such as craning their necks low over the water, thrashing about in the water, or vocalizing.

Anglers can protect loons by fishing with lead-free tackle, stopping fishing activity when loons are nearby, and properly disposing of fishing line. Anglers can turn in their lead tackle at collection points at The Loon Center, SLA, NH LAKES, and NH Fish & Game regional offices.

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