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Video: Gilligan the loon – and his reverse island

Dec 15, 2021 06:30AM ● By Editor
Photos: KARE 11 News

By Sharon Yoo from KARTE 11 News - December 14, 2021

Not much of a loon-call kind of weather these days. Those days are long gone, and winter has settled.

However, Debbie Center has been super lucky to have a loon close by. At first she couldn't believe it.

"A lake neighbor messaged me through Facebook and said, 'did you know we have a loon here, still?'" Center said.

Though it hasn't exactly vocalized, the loon, named Gilligan by the locals in Nevis, Minnesota, has maybe made a silent call for help. It sure caught Center's attention.

"They cant just take off straight from the water like other birds can. They need this long runway, and I think on the 25th, when I first saw him, it seemed like he had plenty of water," she said. "He could get out of there, he just wasn't. Which leads us to think there was probably an injury, an illness, something preventing him from being able to fly."

Having noticed this, Center has been documenting — uploading to her Facebook page as well as a Facebook group she runs, called "Loony for Loons."

She even called the authorities for help last week, in an effort to rescue the little loon.


"Nevis Fire and Rescue came out and the two local DNR officers came out and went to the shore," she said. "The problem is Gilligan is way out in the middle of the lake, so the firemen needed 1,000 feet of rope to even get to the hole he is in."

A loon is also a loon after all, so he has been evading efforts to capture him. During the last try, he dove into the water and refused to be caught in a Muskie net.

"There are four bald eagles that are very interested in this story as well. If Gilligan doesn't make it then the bald eagles are happy," Center said with concern. "I've filmed them trying to get to him a few times."

The plight of Gilligan trying to escape his...reverse island has gotten international attention. The Loony for Loons page Center runs has exploded in membership. There is so much for Gilligan. However, Center said it hasn't all been positive.

"The world coming together to say come on Gilligan get out of there little buddy, we're behind you, so far that's endearing," Center said. "But I'm also getting a lot of flack from what I'm calling arm chair rescuers, which I am one too! We don't have that expertise, knowledge, training, equipment to know how to do it, so when people are screaming at me, quit sitting around talking to the media and go get him — yeah we've tried."

Center said she has been tasked with keeping an eye on the patch of water that has yet to freeze on this lake. Once the hole gets smaller, she is to reflag the authorities, and they will make a second rescue attempt if they have the time and resources available.

To watch the original report and see related stories, follow this link to the KARE 11 News website.

Watch the KARE 11 News Report here