I know the old saying, "No news is good news," and I regret that this week's news is mostly bad.
Word has been received from both Hamilton County and Franklin counties that EnCon Police Officers have recently issued tickets to several individuals for harassing and harming common loons and their nests. These icons of the Adirondacks are protected under both state and federal laws. The Federal Migratory Bird Act protects loons, their eggs, nests, and feathers.
On June 12, an EnCon Officer responded to reports that two young boys had approached a loon nest and frightened off the adult loon on 6th Lake of the Fulton Chain, near Inlet. One of the boys actually struck the nest with a canoe paddle and broke an egg.
After locating the teenagers and their guardian at a private camp, DEC officers ticketed the guardian for destroying the nest of a protected bird. The case, which will be prosecuted by the Hamilton County District Attorney, could result in a maximum penalty of $250 and 15 days in jail.
The same day, DEC received another complaint of boaters harassing nesting loons on Raquette Lake in Hamilton County. The incident remains under investigation.
On July 21, a youth was witnessed operating a personal watercraft in the vicinity of two adult and three juvenile loons on Raquette Pond in Tupper Lake, Franklin County.
The youth, who was driving a personal watercraft, appeared to be intentionally targeting the loons by making repeated passes over them. Loons, especially young, have a limited capacity to repeatedly dive below the surface to avoid such harassment. It is unknown if any loons were injured or killed in the incident.
Following an investigation by environmental police, a 16-year-old male from Tupper Lake was charged with a violation for illegally taking protected wildlife and three violations of navigation law, including operating an unregistered vessel and operating a personal watercraft without a boater safety certificate.