Profile: Eric Hanson, VT Loon Recovery Project Coordinator

Last week, Vermont’s independent news voice, Seven Days, featured an article about “Vermont’s Loon-atic,” Eric Hanson. For 15 years, Hanson has been the coordinator of the Vermont Loon Recovery Project, a program of the the Vermont Center for Ecostudies in cooperation with the VT Fish and Wildlife Department. He also moonlights (sometimes quite literally) as a wintertime groomer at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

Eric Hanson. Photo Courtesy of Cory Hatch & "Seven Days".

Eric Hanson. Photo Courtesy of Cory Hatch & “Seven Days”.

Hanson, 46, has an extensive history in the study of the rare 14-pound birds, whose calls are the quintessential summer sound effect on the shores of Big Hosmer Pond. While earning a graduate degree in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, he coordinated loon data from 600 lake studies and established a volunteer-based loon monitoring program for Minnesota’s 12,000 loons. Since 1998, when Hanson started working on the Vermont Loon Recovery Project, the status of loons in this state has become increasingly stable.

GRP Biathlete, Susan Dunklee, took this photo while helping Hanson install loon nesting platforms on local lakes in 2012. Read more about these loons and other Craftsbury Critters on her blog, here.

GRP Biathlete, Susan Dunklee, took this photo while helping Hanson install loon nesting platforms on local lakes in 2012. Read more about these loons and other “Craftsbury Critters” on her blog, here.

In the early 1980’s, there were only seven documented breeding pairs in Vermont, and in 1987, loons were added to Vermont’s endangered species list. Around that time, the conservation efforts of the VLRP picked up, focusing on increasing the survival rate of loon-chicks. Due in large part to the VLRP’s efforts, the loon was removed from the endangered species list in 2005. This year’s recorded loon population is 283, up from only 29 birds thirty years ago, and Vermont’s loon-chick survival rate is the highest in North America.

loon

Photo courtesy of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Loon Recovery Project

Seven Days‘ article includes an interview with Hanson that you can read, here. Hanson serves on the Advisory Committee of the Hosmer Ponds Watershed Initiative and regularly offers talks to Craftsbury community members and guests at the Outdoor Center.

 

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2 Responses to Profile: Eric Hanson, VT Loon Recovery Project Coordinator

  1. Emily Dearborn says:

    On Caspian Lake yesterday morning June 16th, two loons were trying to nest on a floating raft with sparse materials in the middle of the lake. They kept getting on laying down and getting off. Is there anything to be done??? Emily and Natalie Kinsey. loon lovers.

    • Eric Hanson says:

      Sorry I missed this comment for so long. The loons on Caspian had a failed natural nest on a point of land; egg was likely taken by a raccoon. We placed a raft next to the point to give them a spot to go that would avoid human conflict nesting near a cottage as well as to provide a location less likely to be depredated. This was not the raft mentioned in the comment above (I’m not sure what that raft was). The loons re-nested successfully and there are now 2 chicks on Caspian Lake for the first time since this program started back in 1978. There has only been one documented nest on Caspian back in 1981 and that nest failed. eric hanson

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