PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A half-dozen projects in New England and New York are slated to receive more than $3.5 million in funding to help protect common loons.

Loons have been the focus of conservation efforts throughout the country, and they have slowly come back in some states, including Maine. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said state and federal regulators have picked six projects to receive money via a settlement stemming from an oil spill.

The Bouchard B-120 oil spill in 2003 in Buzzards Bay off Massachusetts killed more than 500 loons and resulted in a $13.3 million settlement.

One of the grants is an award of nearly $800,000 to the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation to restore breeding common loons in Adirondack Park in New York. Another grant, awarded to the Vermont Center for Ecostudies for more than $440,000, is designed to increase loon populations in Vermont with strategies such as management and monitoring.

The remaining projects are in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Hunting, habitat loss and pollution reduced loon populations around the country, but environmental protections have helped the birds recover somewhat. Protections have included bans on lead tackle, which can poison the birds; “no wake zones,” which require boaters to travel slowly, have also helped the birds successfully nest.

(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox