OLYMPIA– Final public comments are being collected through March 22 on a proposal to add the common loon to the state's list of protected species.
Despite its name, the common loon is a rare breeding species in Washington and is vulnerable to human development activities and recreational use of lakes. Although a number of Washington lakes in the past offered ideal loon nesting conditions, human disturbance has affected loon habitat and may have disrupted nesting, according to WDFW biologists. Surveys over the past 15 years have confirmed only 20 nest sites in Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, King, Okanogan and Whatcom counties.
The WDFW scientists are recommending the bird be listed as a state sensitive species. The sensitive species listing indicates the loon may become threatened or endangered without improved management. The state already lists five other species as sensitive; 26 as endangered (likely to become extinct) and 11 as threatened (likely to become endangered). Another 100 species are considered candidates for listing.
Although the state listing does not carry the regulatory authority of federal protection listings, it furthers WDFW efforts to advise landowners and local governments on habitat protection and other cooperative measures to help the species.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to vote on listing the loon at a meeting April 7 and 8 in Yakima.
Copies of WDFW's final status report on the common loon will be available after Feb. 22 at public libraries, WDFW headquarters and regional offices. The report is currently available in electronic format on the WDFW website.
Written comments on the status reports should be mailed by March 22 to Harriet Allen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.