Ashton-Island Park Ranger District issues closures to conserve Common Loon

A loon and her babies rest on the water.

ASHTON — The Ashton-Island Park Ranger District issued seasonal closures at several lakes until July 15 to help with the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Common Loon nesting period. Human disturbance negatively impacts the loon’s ability to successfully nest.

“We definitely considered the recreational impacts these seasonal restrictions will have on some of our anglers, hikers and other forest users,” said Liz Davy, Ashton-Island Park District Ranger. “We feel like we’ve balanced our need to help conserve a genetically viable species with the public’s need to recreate on their public lands.” The breeding sites will be monitored closely, and should they fail, the closures could be relaxed. For 2019, the Fish Lake nesting site failed and re-opened to human entry June 27.

The other four sites have met with success with the Bergman and Moose Lake breeding pair hatching two chicks and the Indian Lake pair hatching one chick. The Loon Lake breeding pair remains on the nest. “These are incredible results and we feel further point to the closures being a success,” said Vincent Spagnuolo, Loon researcher.

The GYE Common Loon is a vulnerable population as only 15-20 breeding pairs exist in the area. The loons only disperse up to 54 miles, so they are geographically isolated from the nearest breeding loons in northwestern Montana by 200 miles.

The seasonal closures affect the following lakes: Bergman Reservoir, Fish Lake, Indian Lake, Loon Lake and Moose Lake. Different limitations exist at each site, so the public is encouraged to read more at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ctnf/home.

For more information or to find alternative areas for fishing, please contact the Ashton-Island Park Ranger District at 208-652-7442.