LONGPORT — An injured loon rescued from the beach here Dec. 27 was suffering from a broken left wing and respiratory issues as a result of being shot, according to a volunteer at Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford.
Volunteer Katie Corris said Tuesday that when the loon was brought in last week, one pellet was lodged in its wing, and another was lodged in its neck. It is unknown whether the shooting was accidental or intentional, she said.
The loon was treated at Cedar Run for a few days and sent on to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Delaware for continuing care, she said.
Corris said the break was "pretty bad," but she was optimistic the bird would make a full recovery.
The injured bird was found on the beach at 23rd Avenue Wednesday, acting Municipal Clerk Matt Conlon said in an email to The Current Friday.
Animal Control of South Jersey was called, but they said they could do nothing due to the protected species status of shorebirds.
“Because all coastal birds are considered protected, they could not help,” Conlon said.
Conlon contacted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife, who also said they did not take care of coastal birds, he said.
The bird was found by Lindsey Pfrommer of Washington, D.C., and her sister Lauren Pfrommer of Edinburgh, Scotland, who were home for the holidays visiting their parents in Egg Harbor Township, according to their aunt and uncle, Donna and Jim Daniels of Northfield.
"Whenever they are home, they love to walk their dogs, Riley and Maggie, on the Longport beach," Jim Daniels said in an email.
"The girls came upon the loon sitting stationary right at the waterline, unable to move, and obviously in some sort of distress," he said.
Daniels said the Pfrommers called them because his wife has rescued countless animals, both domestic and wild, over the years.
She called the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, an organization that operates an animal refuge and wildlife rehabilitation hospital in the Pinelands. They agreed to examine the bird and do what they could to help it, but someone would have to transport it to the refuge.
They threw a cardboard box and an old towel into the car and headed over to the Longport beach, where Conlon and other Longport employees were with the bird, trying to figure out how to help.
The bird was much larger than they had expected, "more like the size of a goose," Daniels said, and the box they had brought was too small. But the Longport employees quickly found a larger box and another towel, he said.
"It was a very cold day, with a howling, cold wind, and the bird was shaking and breathing heavily with its mouth open. The city administrator used one towel to cover the bird and keep him calm, and lifted him into the box," Daniels said.
“Chris Berenotto and Joseph McCue of Longport’s Public Works Department trapped the bird and transported it off the beach in a box into the waiting arms of Jim and Donna Daniels, who volunteered to transport the wounded animal to Medford,” Conlon said.
Jim Daniels said that on the ride to the hospital, at first the loon was very still, but as they drove it became more active.
"We believe the bird was in shock due to its injuries and the very cold conditions. Perhaps the bird started to come around as it warmed up in the heated car," he said.
They were met at the animal hospital by a woman, who said the bird had a broken wing.
"She informed us the break in the wing seemed to be in a 'good' location, in the middle of a long bone, not near a joint, which gave the bird a better chance of healing," Daniels said.
"They were also concerned with the loon's breathing, speculating that he or she may have ingested something, perhaps a fishhook. That would be assessed later by a veterinarian, and we were told that in many cases, the hook can be safely removed."
Daniels said he believes the loon would have died without intervention.
"The bird was completely immobile, and very weak. The next high tide likely would have taken the bird into the ocean, and with being weak and unable to fly, I doubt it would have survived long in the surf," he said.
"Or even if the tide did not reach it, out in that cold, in its condition, I doubt it would have survived more than few more hours."
Conlon called the bird "Lucky the Longport Loon."
For information about Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge see cedarrun.org.