Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary | Access and Activities | Map of the Area | Summary Table | Contact Information

Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: © C. MacKinnon. Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary: outflow.

Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) was established in 1939 and lies just east of the town of Glace Bay, in Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia. Big Glace Bay “Lake” is actually a barrier-beach pond adjacent to the open Atlantic Ocean, and thus subject to daily tidal fluctuations. The 393-ha site is protected from the open sea by a 1.5‑km sand and gravel beach backed by salt marsh and intertidal flats. The shallow brackish-saline water supports beds of eelgrass and thus is attractive to migrating waterfowl. The upland on the east side of the “lake” is vegetated with stunted spruce, while the surrounding upland on the western side is incorporated into the town of Glace Bay and once supported a heavy water plant and thermal power generating facility.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The sanctuary provides safe fall migration habitat for 100–200 American Black Ducks and several hundred Canada Geese. During winter, part of the sanctuary usually stays open, and several hundred Canada Geese and a few dozen American Black Ducks, along with 40–60 Common Goldeneye and a few Buffleheads can be observed on an average day. At least two pairs of the rare and threatened Piping Plover nest on the Glace Bay barrier beach, and several pairs of Common Terns nest on hummocks in the salt marsh. Several pairs of Willets also nest along the edge of the marshes.

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Big Glace Bay Lake MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited. Dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

Access prohibitions or restrictions by the MBS landowners (Province of Nova Scotia and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) may also apply.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary in relation to Nova Scotia, Glace Bay, Big Glace Bay, Big Glace Bay Lake and the Cabot Strait. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which encompasses the majority of big Glace Bay Lake and a portion of the surrounding land. The scale of the map is in tenths of a kilometer.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Big Glace Bay Lake MBS can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary Table

Summary Table for Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
CategoryInformation
Protected Area designationMigratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territoryNova Scotia
Latitude/longitude46°10' N, 59°56' W
Size in hectares (ha)393 ha
Date created (Gazetted)1939
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management CategoryN/A
Additional designationsPart of Big Glace Bay Lake Important Bird Area
Main habitat typeGravel beach (5%), mixed woodland (23%), salt marsh (5%), shallow coastal water and eelgrass flats (67%)
Key bird speciesAmerican Black Duck, Canada Goose, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Piping Plover, Common Tern and Willet
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act(SARA)Piping Plover
Management agencyCanadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
LandownersProvince of Nova Scotia and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB E4L 1G6
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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