Vermont loon biologist picks up Zetterstrom award

Published: Apr. 23, 2019 at 4:47 PM EDT
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A Vermont wildlife biologist credited with helping bring back the formerly endangered loon has received a prestigious environmental award.

Green Mountain Power Tuesday awarded Eric Hanson the GMP Zetterstrom Environmental Award at a ceremony on Lake Iroquois.

Hanson, a biologist for the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, a joint effort between Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, has spent the past 21 years working to protect loon nest sites, assisting injured loons, and building a sustainable breeding population.

Thirty years ago there were only seven loon nesting pairs in Vermont. Today there are nearly 100. The loon was taken off the endangered species list in 2005-under Hanson's leadership.

"No one was seeing loons here ten years ago-- except maybe passing in migration. Then about seven or eight years ago, our annual count day where we try to hit every lake in the state -- one showed up. Well, that put it on the list -- 'We gotta come back here.' So the next year -- nothing. A year after that -- one loon. And then it was probably five or six years ago, there were two loons observed. And that's really exciting when you start seeing two birds."

Each year the award is given to either a person, business, or nonprofit that has made a major contribution to Vermont's environment.

Along with a plaque, the recipient gets a $2,500 donation sent to their cause.