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RF woman initiates rescue of injured loon

Tammi Larson, wildlife specialist, and Harvey Halvorsen of the Wisconsin DNR’s Baldwin Office, work to free a loon from a fishing lure stuck in its cheek. The loon was found at the end of August by Mary Roen and some friends who had been at Perch Lake in Hudson for a picnic. (Submitted photo)1 / 3
Harvey Halvorsen holds up part of the lure that had been stuck in the cheek of a loon. With the lure are four sinkers. If the loon had swallowed them, it could have given the loon a potentially lethal dose of lead poisoning, according to Mary Roen who helped rescue the loon.2 / 3
Would-be rescuers got into canoes to search Perch Lake for a loon with a fishing lure stuck in its cheek. From left Harvey Halvorsen of the Wisconsin DNR, wildlife specialist Tammi Larson and Ruth Hilfiker.3 / 3

On a Fridya at the end of August, Mary Roen, Town of Troy, and two friends were enjoying a picnic at Perch Lake in Hudosn, when they spotted a Loon behaving oddly, throwing its head back and forth.

Roen and her friends took a closer look through some binoculars , which showed the loon’s beak was wrapped in fishing line and a fishing lure was stuck in its cheek.

“We sprang into action,” Roen said, “calling every agency we could think of to rescue this beautiful bird from certain death.”

Harvey Halvorsen of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Baldwin office and Tamara Larson of Tammi’s Wildlife Rescue & Wellness Center in Frederick headed up the rescue mission. They formed a plan to start the search for the loon the next day, Saturday.

At dusk Saturday, a group met to find and rescue the loon. Halvorsen, Larson and Halvorsen’s wife Ruth Hilfiker took a canoe around the lake. Roen said she and other volunteers used kayaks. Halvorsen, Larson and the volunteers formed a semicircle around the loon and encourage it to swim into shallower waters, where Larson would be able to safely capture the loon.

It took several tries, but Larson was able to catch the loon. Working together, Larson and Halvorsen quickly cut away the fishing line and the lure.

Once Larson had cleaned the puncture wound where the lure had gone through the loon’s cheek, the bird was released.

“He took a couple of paddle strokes, stretched out his wings, gave a beautiful tremolo call,” Roen said, “which, to us, meant ‘Thanks for helping me, but now leave me alone!’ It was all the thanks we needed.”

Roen said she was impressed by the number of people willing to give up part of their Labor Day weekend to rescue the loon.  For her part, she said helping to rescue the loon was an experience she said she will never forget.

I am enthralled with nature - birds, animals, plants, trees,” Roen said. “Species are becoming endangered or extinct right now because of loss of habitat and human development. If I can do anything to help even one loon, it makes me feel like I have made a difference in the natural world.”

Larson said anyone who finds an injured animal or bird should first assess the situation to see if the animal is in immediate danger.

If an animal does need human help, Larson said, it is best to contact a local DNR office or check the DNR’s website, The Baldwin DNR office’s number is (715) 684-2914. The Eau Claire office can be reached at (715) 839-3700.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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