Basin and Middle Lakes Migratory Bird Sanctuary

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

Photo of Wilson's Phalarope
Photo: © Thinkstockphotos.ca. Wilson's Phalarope.

Basin and Middle Lakes Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 40 km north of Humboldt, Saskatchewan. It consists of two relatively large saline lakes 1.5 km apart located in the Boreal Transition ecoregion of Saskatchewan. Both lakes are subject to severe water-level fluctuations, as spring runoff and seasonal rains are their major water source. Basin Lake, with an average depth of 9 m, has several islands, the number of which depends upon water conditions. Middle Lake, considerably more shallow with an average depth of 1 m, has one island. Basin Lake has extensive rocky and sandy areas along its shoreline, a dry meadow zone or mud flats, and is surrounded by aspen, willow and some white spruce. The shoreline of Middle Lake is similar, but extensive wet meadow zones occur on the east and south shores. Both lakes are saline and slightly to moderately alkaline. Until the mid-1970s, Basin Lake supported a Whitefish fishery, which no longer exists owing to the salinity of the lake. Basin Lake and its surrounding uplands was a proposed International Biological Program site. In 2001, Basin and Middle Lakes were designated an International Bird Area for their global significance for shorebirds and waterfowl.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Basin and Middle Lakes MBS was established on March 9, 1925. This sanctuary is a major migratory staging area for waterfowl and swans. In the fall, Basin Lake attracts up to
20 000 ducks, 400 Canada Geese and 600 Tundra Swans, while Middle Lake supports half these numbers. Breeding populations of diving and dabbling ducks and Canada Geese on both lakes are restricted by the lack of suitable nesting habitat. Several hundred ducks, primarily divers, and geese also use the lakes during their moulting period in summer.

The MBS is also important for shorebirds during spring migration. The endangered Piping Plover has been recorded here.

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.

Public access to the MBS is at the discretion of the many private landowners adjacent to these lakes. There are limited municipal road access points. The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to this site: 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.

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 protected areas managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada in Quebec, 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 Basin and Middle Lakes Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Saskatchewan, St. Bennedict, Basin Lake and Middle Lake. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers both Basin Lake and Middle Lake. The scale of the map is in kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Basin and Middle Lakes 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 Basin and Middle Lakes Migratory Bird Sanctuary
CategoryInformation
Protected Area designationMigratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territorySaskatchewan
Latitude/longitude52°33' N, 105°10' W
Size in hectares (ha)4638 ha
Date created (Gazetted)1925
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management CategoryIV - Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designationsPart of Basin and Middle Lakes Important Bird Area
Main habitat typeOpen water and mud flats (98%), wet meadow/marsh (1%), rock/sand islands (1% )
Key bird speciesDucks, Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, American Avocet and Killdeer
Other speciesBirds: Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Black Tern, Common Tern, Marbled Godwit, Willet, Piping Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper and Wilson's Phalarope
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)Piping Plover (circumcinctus subspecies)
Management agencyCanadian Wildlife Service, Prairie and Northern Region
LandownerProvince of Saskatchewan

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 0X4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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