Rum Island closed to protect loons
May 29, 2014
Contact: Bruce Connery
Loons will soon be establishing nesting territories and engaging in breeding behavior at several sites in Acadia National Park and on Mount Desert Island (MDI). A pair of adult loons is again expected to select Rum Island on Long Pond as their nesting site for this coming nesting season. To protect the nesting birds from inadvertent disturbance or harassment, the entire island and fifteen feet from the shore into the pond are closed to all visitor and operational activities.
The closure began on May 16 and is expected to remain in effect until July 15. The island and waters near the shore are clearly marked with signs and buoys that include a map of the closure area. The area and trail will remain closed till the chicks are not dependent on the nesting site and protective eastern shoreline. The opening of these closed areas is expected before the middle of July. If biologists with the park and cooperating researchers or volunteers determine that the nesting attempt has failed at this site later this spring or early in the summer, the park will rescind the closure and the area and waters along the shoreline will be opened.
Biologists are observing other nesting areas in the park that are known loon nesting territories. From these research and monitoring efforts they hope to better understand the threats facing loons and specifically why loon nesting success (i.e., chick survival) on Mount Desert Island has been historically poor. Fortunately other nesting sites are not as closely located to boating destinations such as Rum Island, making closures at these nesting sites unnecessary.
Research has shown that loons are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance during the nesting season. The disturbance can be measured in the expenditure of additional energy by the adults, displaced attention to the eggs or chicks, increased opportunities for predators, and unfavorable nesting conditions. Continued disturbances can lead to the loss of an egg or chick or a complete nest failure, which continues the low reproductive rates on MDI and the instability of the population in Maine.
The park will announce the reopening of the closed area and waters near the shoreline when either park and other biologists or loon volunteers determine that young chicks are not dependent on the nest or waters near the shoreline.