Loons to benefit from oil spill settlement

Funds from an oil spill settlement will help reestablish common loons throughout New England.
Credit: Roy Lowe/USFWS

Funds from a legal settlement following a 2003 oil spill are helping reestablish common loons (Gavia immer) in New England. Federal and state agencies are spending $8 million to release 45 to 60 chicks taken from Maine and New York to historical breeding sites in Massachusetts. Another portion of the settlement will be used to increase survival of nesting loons throughout New England. Other projects funded by the 2017 settlement and others will benefit common eiders (Somateria mollissima) and other coastal birds. Officials say over 500 common loons and more than 500 other birds were killed when a Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc., oil barge spilled some 98,000 gallons of oil into Buzzards Bay, the Associated Press reports.

“Not only will these projects restore birds affected by the 2003 oil spill, but they’ll ultimately help people connect with nature, perhaps by spotting loons on the water or hearing their iconic calls,” Tom Chapman, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s New England Field Office, said in a statement.

Read more from the Associated Press.