Red Knots & Semipalmated Sandpipers

Quill Lakes

Country: Canada

Region: Saskatchewan,

Nearest city/town: Wadena

Site: Quill Lakes

Species/Sub-species: REKN-rufa, SESA

Total biogeographic population: 42,000 (rufa), 2,260,000 (SESA)

Count Method: Maximum day count (rufa), Total estimate (SESA)

Count: 8,967 (rufa)1, 23,637 (SESA)2

% biogeographic pop. at site: 21.35 (rufa), 1.05 (SESA)

Season (primarily): Spring

Site recognition: WHSRN Ramsar IBA

Site recognition (other): International and Endangered Species Reserve, Saskatchewan Heritage Marsh, Watchable Wildlife Area

Site description: Using the Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type, the site habitat characteristics are wetland (inland) and specifically lakes. The land is owned by the Province of Saskatchewan (Crown Land) and managed through the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. Since 2006, the ecological integrity of the site has been severely impaired or destroyed. Loss of perennial cover combined with draining of wetlands (for agricultural use) into Quill Lakes has increased water depth by several meters; nesting areas and mudflats are being flooded. Overall shorebird populations have decreased significantly, primarily because water levels are too high.

Known threats: There are severe threats and pressures affecting the site, including the lack of a wetland policy in the Province. Wetland draining for agriculture is market driven. There is a medium threat of extraction of nonrenewable resources from mining (Big Quill Resources). There is also a medium threat of exploitation of renewable resources due to artisanal and small-scale fisheries (Brine harvest by Wynyard Technology). Site land use change is a high threat in terms of agriculture (wetland drainage to Quill Lakes); altered hydrological regime (increased Quill Lakes water depth); excess/unseasonal water supply to wetlands (drainage to Quill Lakes); wetland draining; and altered salinity (decreased).3

Notes: The site boundaries used follow the WHSRN site. Since 2008 the lakes have been massively flooded, all staging habitat has disappeared. Eventually water levels will go down and it will be good again, but right now it is not.

Sources: 1Alexander, S.A. and C.L. Gratto-Trevor. 1997. Shorebird migration and staging at a large prairie lake and wetland complex: the Quill Lakes, Saskatchewan. Occasional Paper Number 97, Canadian Wildlife Service, Prairie and Northern Region. 2Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada. Important Bird Areas In Canada: Quill Lakes. 3WHSRN Site Assessment Tool (SAT) 2009