ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A major study is under way into the potential impacts of the gulf oil spill on Minnesota's loons and pelicans.
Biologists are particularly concerned about loons because most loons hatched in Minnesota in 2008 and 2009 would have been present in the Gulf of Mexico during the disaster last summer.
Subadult common loons don't return to Minnesota until the spring of their third year, and they typically don't start breeding until they are five years old. Subadult white pelicans spend a year in the gulf before returning to Minnesota, so pelicans hatched in 2009 also would have been there.
Minnesota has an estimated 12,000 common loons and 16,000 pairs of white pelicans. The state is spending close to $300,000 in lottery and conservation license plate proceeds on the study.