MOULTONBOROUGH, N.H. (CBS) — Looking at X-rays and photos of two loons that were shot last week in New Hampshire, biologist Tiffany Grade with The Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough is devastated that people took aim at these endangered and protected species.
“It was extremely upsetting,” said Grade. “I was the one who picked up the loons in both cases.”
One loon was shot on Lake Winnipesaukee and died immediately.
Another loon was shot in Dover and initially survived.
Veterinarians decided it would be safer to leave the bullet in the loon’s body so it was rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
But it was found dead Tuesday. The injuries were just too severe.
Experts believe the loons were shot on purpose.
“Well hunting season is over for ducks so the loons were not hit by bird shot,” said Senior Biologist Harry Vogel with The Loon Preservation Committee. “It was actual bullets and so that to us indicates this was not a mistaken identity.”
The Loon Preservation Committee works all year to make sure loons are safe. There are only 284 pairs of loons in the state.
Fish and Game officials are trying to track down whoever shot the loons.
It’s a misdemeanor to injure a loon, or even make an attempt.
“It’s unfathomable to think how people could do this to these magnificent birds,” laments Grade.
The Loon Preservation Committee has been able to triple the threatened loon population in New Hampshire over the last 40 years.
“Because they don’t begin to breed until they’re six or seven years old and then after that their reproductive success is very poor,” said Vogel. “It’s ½ a chick per pair per year on average in New Hampshire.”