Squam Lakes Loon Report: Squam loon dead from lead poisoning, chick update

Hello, I want to send you a quick update from the Squam Lakes to let you know that, unfortunately, a dead loon was found on Squam Lake in the middle of October. This is the same loon that I had reported on in my final newsletter of the summer that was sick and I was tracking at the time. Unfortunately, despite the loon’s weakened condition, it was still diving well and unable to be captured. This loon soon disappeared and I was unable to relocate it in my searches of neighboring coves. What I had not counted on was that the loon would cross a sizeable expanse of open water, given the condition it was in, but that is what happened. The loon was found dead and badly decomposed on an island a good distance across open water from where I had been monitoring it, and the molt pattern matched the sick loon—it had evidently died shortly after I had last seen it.

We have now determined the cause of death of the loon and the results confirmed what I had feared when I was watching it: lead poisoning from ingested fishing tackle, in this case a large lead jighead. Sadly, Squam Lake has lost a loon to lead poisoning in each of the last three years. *Thank you* to the people who reported this loon to Loon Preservation Committee—it is so important for us to collect dead loons and document causes of death. And *thank you* to everyone for helping to spread the word about the dangers of lead fishing tackle and encouraging friends, lake neighbors, and renters to use only non-lead fishing tackle.

On a much brighter note, all 4 chicks on Squam Lake and the chick on Little Squam were all thriving and looking beautiful when I last saw them in mid-October! It is wonderful that these chicks did so well, and many thanks to everyone for helping to protect and look out for the loon families!

Wishing you a happy fall and winter season!
All the best,

Tiffany Grade
Squam Lakes biologist
Loon Preservation Committee

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