Rescued Horsefly Lake loon makes a full recovery

Paul Steeves photos The immmature loon rescued last month at Horsefly Lake is now fully recovered and living free off the coast of Vancouver. - Paul Steeves photo
Paul Steeves photos The immmature loon rescued last month at Horsefly Lake is now fully recovered and living free off the coast of Vancouver.
— image credit: Paul Steeves photo

By Angie Mindus

It’s the happy ending everyone was hoping for.

An injured loon rescued in December after being trapped in the ice at Horsefly Lake is now fully recovered and enjoying a taste of the city life off the coast of Vancouver.

According to the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC (WRABC), the loon was released back into the wild last weekend after spending four weeks in the care of the association where it received treatment for a puncture wound in its neck that penetrated its esophagus and caused an infectious mass the size of a golf ball.

“It was a very delicate rehabilitation — quite difficult,” said Yolanda Brooks, communications co-ordinator for WRABC.

Brooks said volunteers typically release rehabilitated birds back into the wild, but the Horsefly loon release was special. Excited staff at the facility kept the Horsefly loon for themselves to release Sunday afternoon.

“One of the staff was doing the happy dance,” said Brooks. “They were really pleased.”

Brooks said it was touch and go when the loon first arrived.

“Once it had settled into its new surroundings, rehabilitation staff removed the mass and sutured the wound,” said Brooks.

“It took four weeks for the wounds to heal, its feathers to grow back and for it to regain its strength.”

Staff suspect the bird was injured by a fishing hook, which is a common injury seen in loons and geese.

Brooks said the loon was given the all clear this past weekend and released off the coast near Vancouver, where it will likely hang out in the Indian Arm or Burrard Inlet before migrating in the spring.

Last month, Horsefly residents, South Cariboo Search and Rescue, Animal Care Hospital and Pacific Coastal Airlines were all involved in the Christmas rescue after locals spotted the immature loon and another one trapped in a small patch of water that was about to freeze over.

Rescue crews were able to capture the one loon in a salmon net and wrap it in a blanket, then fly it down to the facility courtesy of Pacific Coastal Airlines.

“I understand the rescue was quite dangerous — it is an amazing thing they did. But the effort was worthwhile and we definitely appreciate it.”

The Wildlife Rescue Assoc. is located on the south shore of Burnaby Lake and last year cared for 4,131 injured birds and animals.

Brooks said a handful of birds come from the Cariboo every year, transported for free by Pacific Coastal Airlines.

The association runs entirely on public donations.

For more information about the facility, or how to make a donation, visit its website at


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