Minnesota United tries a new kind of goal: Supporting the state bird

Minnesota United soccer team is going crazy – loony even – over helping the state bird.
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Minnesota United soccer team is going crazy – loony even – over helping the state bird.

The team, often referred to as the Loons themselves, is teaming up with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to boost the DNR's Loon Monitoring Program, a news release says.

One way they plan to help is by giving a portion of sales from the first 11,842 season tickets sold for the team's inaugural MLS season in 2017 to the loon program. (There are 11,842 lakes in Minnesota.)

Fans who buy one of those season tickets get a free day pass to Minnesota State Parks, which DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr says is a way of "connecting soccer fans to Minnesota state parks and trails."

With the extra support, the DNR plans to monitor more lakes (it's already keeping an eye on 600) and better analyze the data it collects on loons who live on them, according to the DNR's website.

The loon population in Minnesota is pretty stable right now, but the birds are very touchy when it comes to their environment, the DNR says. The birds need quality water for feeding purposes, and are reactive to contaminants such as mercury or lead making them "good indicators" of environmental issues.

If you are interested in helping the loon population or the DNR, you're in luck. The program is mostly made up of volunteers, so sign up on their website here. To learn more about loons in Minnesota, click here.

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