COLLEGEVILLE -- It was a year ago that a major oil spill threatened Gulf Coast wildlife. And, part of that threat is to Minnesota's Loon population.

The Minnesota DNR has used a federal grant to place a satellite transmitter on a pair of Loons to track them during their winter migration. One of the Loons died before making it to the Gulf. But, DNR spokesman Carrol Henderson says you can track the other Loon as it makes its way back to Lake Sagatagan at St. John's University.

Henderson says they wanted to monitor how the oil spill is affecting the Loons, but it may take a few years.  He says newborn Loons stay in the saltwater of the Gulf of Mexico for two years before migrating north.  He also says Loons don't find a mate until they are five years old.

Henderson says they will conduct their annual mid-summer Loon survey to try to get an accurate count of Loons. He says those numbers have been very steady since 1994 when they started the survey.  He says it will give the DNR a more accurate look at oil spill mortality rates.

If you want to track the St. John's Loon #55480 on its migration back to Minnesota, click on this link to the U-S Geological Survey's Loon migration page.