When loon aficionado Kevin K. Pepper was on the south end of Salerno Lake recently, he noticed a loon in a place they don’t normally frequent this time of year.
He said he knew something was wrong. Paying closer attention, the prolific loon photographer noticed the bird was having mobility issues.
The next day, a couple of kayakers made a similar observation and took some photos of what appeared to be fishing line wrapped around the loon’s wing and foot.
Pepper boated back down and took some images of his own. A daytime rescue was attempted, where you get the loon in a boat, cover it, and remove the line. However, “an injured loon will not allow you to get that close,” he said.
He tapped into loon resources he has in the U.S. He sent an email to them and within 20 minutes got a call from one of them. His contact said it sounded like he had to do a night rescue.
“My contact walked me through the whole procedure, where you shine the light on its eyes and it freezes the loon and you go through the process of capturing it and getting the line off it.
“I thought OK, I’m going to need help with this because it sounds like a big task. I threw out a posting on the Salerno Facebook page, and I listed that I needed a small boat, a trailer and a Musky net and lights.
“All of a sudden, the lake people jumped on this thing, which was awesome.”
Pepper said he pulled together two teams of three people in two small boats. They met Friday night, Aug. 11, at 10 p.m.
He said after about 40 minutes on the water, they located the loon on shore.
“Loons will beach themselves when injured. Like surgeons, the team began to remove the fishing line. We then discovered a fourinch lure up under the wing. Carefully, with delicate hands and tools, the lure was removed. Removing the remainder of the net and lifting the blanket, the loon made its way to the water. It began to swim, dive and actually went up with extended wings. I believe the loon will make a full recovery. There didn’t seem to be any apparent wing damage,” Pepper said.
He said the loon team consisted of Douglas A. Rodger, Larry Wren, Kim Stuart, Robert Landry, Kenneth Clark, McMann Marnie and Robert Stuart. He added they had shore line support from Chris Gillespie and Tom Clarke. “This incredible team worked so well together and the result was a loon was saved.”
Pepper, who loves to photograph the loons of Salerno Lake, said he was “just over the moon. It was just crazy unbelievable.”
He’s been sharing the story and has sent information back to the U.S. teams.
“This is just a good story and it just promotes loon awareness, which we desperately need.”