(WWLP) – Two Massachusetts hunters were cited after shooting a loon that was released by researchers to increase their declining population.

According to the Massachusetts Environmental Police, on the opening day of Berkshire waterfowl hunting season, October 9th, two hunters were in a canoe on a drinking water supply reservoir that is not open to hunting. On the same morning, researchers released a juvenile Common Loon on the same body of water.

The loon was shot by hunters, however they returned the bird after learning of the loon project and identifying it. They were both cited for hunting public land without a permit, taking/possessing a species of concern, and taking a bird out of season.

In Massachusetts, from September 15 to May 15, canoeists/kayakers are required to wear a life jacket. The hunters were in possession of life jackets however they were not being worn. They were both cited for failing to wear personal flotation devices.

Massachusetts Environmental Police are reminding hunters to positively identify birds before attempting to take them. To learn about identifying waterfowl, visit Mass.gov.

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