The Loon Restoration Project

Re-establishing loons in their former breeding range and helping populations recover in the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Project Overview

Working with Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and Bridger-Teton National Forest, The Ricketts Conservation Foundation is working to protect and enhance the Common Loons, an isolated population of charismatic birds.

The Problem

The Common Loon is Wyoming’s rarest breeding bird species, with only 22 known pairs in the state. Breeding success has varied from year to year but research conducted by The Ricketts Conservation Foundation and Wyoming Game and Fish Department shows human disturbance is the greatest factor in nest failure. A single visit by people to a lake where the loons breed can keep birds off their nest for a few hours, causing nesting failure.

The Solution

In 2018, The Ricketts Conservation Foundation worked with Caribou-Targhee National Forest to close off a lake to public visitation during the critical incubation period. This effort resulted in the first successful Common Loon nesting attempt at the lake in 15 years. Based on these results, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest worked with The Ricketts Conservation Foundation to close access to five breeding lakes during the 2019 breeding season. Four of the pairs bred successfully, validating this management action.

The Ricketts Conservation Foundation is assisting the National Forest by funding the construction of a gate to limit vehicle access to one breeding lake for the 2020 breeding season.



A conversation with Joe Ricketts and David Evers about their loon restoration project, ‘Restore the Call.’


Restore the Call: A scientific initiative to restore and recover loon populations to their former range.