As part of community service, Miles Radke agrees to work for the State of New York on a common loon survey in the Adirondack Mountains. If he completes the summer job without incident, his record of misdemeanors will be cleared.
Miles is assigned to assist Annie, a wildlife biologist. Their charge is to canoe a hundred lakes in the northern Adirondacks and report on any loon activity they encounter. Among his duties, Miles is responsible for keeping a journal of what they experience during the summer.
Miles has spent most of his adult life as an itinerant worker. A free-spirited drifter, he often finds himself in trouble with the law. Annie is a dedicated conservationist who once worked as a Greenpeace activist confronting Soviet whaling ships on the high seas.
At first, Miles is skeptical of the survey, but gradually he begins to appreciate the Adirondack backcountry and the value of their work. Eventually, he comes to identify with the loon as he slowly falls in love with his partner. In the end his personal experience parallels the demise of the natural world.
Loon Rangers is at once humorous, provocative, and darkly tragic, addressing two major issues of our time: species extinction and what it means to live in the Anthropocene.