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Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
Contact InformationErica LeMoine
1411 Ellis Avenue
Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
Ashland, WI 54806
Artificial Nesting PlatformsLoon artificial nesting platforms (ANP) have been used to increase loon nesting success in many states. While they have been effective at enhancing loon productivity and are very popular with lakeshore residents, ANPs do not insure nesting success. The need for an ANP implies that humans have manipulated the habitat to a point where natural nesting is not possible. The best way to enhance the long-term health of loons is to protect natural nesting sites.
If you are considering an ANP, there are a number of questions that should be considered. If you can answer yes to any of the first three questions, a platform is probably not the right management tool for your lake.
- Do loons produce chicks on your lake once every three years?
- Do your loons successfully nest on a nearby lake?
- Are there natural nesting locations on your lake that could be enhanced rather than place a platform?
- Do you know the history of loon nesting attempts on your lake?
- The loons are territorial (exhibiting defensive postures such as the penguin dance); non-breeding residents; or just occasional visitors.
- If nesting has been attempted, data on nest locations, cause and number of failures is important.
If territorial loons nest on your lake but have a history of nest failures you should first work to enhance natural nesting sites. This might be through regulations such as a "slow-no-wake zone" near the nest, contacts with the landowners about naturalizing shorelines, or educational programs for lake residents or users. If natural nest sites are not available, you may want to consider an ANP. The most appropriate locations for ANP's are lakes where all natural nesting sites have been developed, water levels fluctuate severely (such as reservoirs), or where loons nest on mainland shores and have lost their eggs to shore predators such as raccoons for at least three consecutive years.
If natural nest sites are not available or are inadequate, you may want to consider a platform. The most appropriate lakes for platforms are those where all natural nest sites have been developed, water levels fluctuate drastically (such as reservoirs), or loons have lost their eggs to terrestrial predators such as raccoons for at least three consecutive years.
If you are considering an ANP for your lake, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Contact LoonWatch or call your local WI Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist for help in selecting an appropriate location.
- In Wisconsin, you must either apply for a permit or notify the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources before you can place a loon nesting platform on your lake.
- On lakes designated as Areas of Special Natural Resources Interest, a General Waterway Permit for Nesting Structures is required for loon nest platforms constructed and launched since Spring 2004. To find out if your lake requires a permit, visit the WDNR website for General Waterway Permits.
- For all other lakes, you must notify the WI Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist for your county about your nest platform plans (note: this is not a permit). Send a letter that includes a description of the site (lake name, county, township, range, section, and quarter section) where the platform will be placed. Also identify the landowner closest to where the platform will be placed and include their name, address and phone number in the letter.
- The platform should be placed in 5-6 feet of water and far enough away from shore to deter land predators. It is important that the platform not interfere with boating traffic or be located in close proximity to a predator such as a bald eagle nest. We encourage you to monitor platform success and send your data to Loon Watch.
- We encourage you to involve your lake association in your plans.
- Monitor the nesting success of loons using the platform and send LoonWatch your observations as part of the Annual Lake Monitoring Program.
- You should also consider placing Loon Alert signs at public boat launches around your lake to let boaters know that loons are nesting there. These signs can be purchased from our merchandise page.
Do ANP's spell success for loons-the answer is not always. The need for loon platforms implies that humans have manipulated the habitat to a point where natural nesting is not possible.
- Platforms can be an easy "out" from the true challenge of balancing human lake use and the habitat needs of loons and other species. Protection of nest sites from development, coordination of water level fluctuations to protect nests, and an understanding of the habitat suitability are essential.
- The best way to enhance long-term health of loons is to protect natural nesting sites.
- There is no guarantee that loons will use a platform and, in fact, ANP's can sometimes create problems for loons. For example, predators such as crows, gulls, or eagles may more easily locate nests on platforms. In addition, curious humans can impact loons by boating too close to a platform and frightening loons from the nest.
- Loon alert signs at boat ramps and lake resident education are ways to encourage sensitive boating behavior.
Ways to Support LoonWatch
Supporting LoonWatch can include donating your photography, volunteering to be a citizen scientist for research projects, or giving a cash donation that ensure LoonWatch will be here to help loons thrive in the Northwoods. For more information, please contact Erica LeMoine at (715) 682-1220 or email at email@example.com.
1411 Ellis Avenue Ashland, WI 54806-3999
(715) 682-1699 | Map it