Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Îles Innu within Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: Jean-François Rail © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Îles Innu within Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

The Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) lies on the north coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, approximately 25 kilometres east of Havre-Saint-Pierre. The sanctuary encompasses a group of islands, islets and rocks as well as 500 metres of surrounding marine waters, excluding any part of the mainland that falls within this perimeter (Île à la Chasse). The MBS is part of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada.

Established in 1925 to protect an essential nesting site for Common Eider and other seabirds, the MBS covers an area of 462 hectares and is formed of rocky outcrops, woodlands, shrubs and grasses. Île Innu (formerly Île au Bois) supports forests of spruce-balsam fir trees, reaching only around ten metres in height, and a fen in which shallow puddles are regularly formed. Île à Calculot des Betchouanes (formerly Île aux Perroquets/Île Saint-Charles) is treeless and covered by grasses up to two metres high, including species such as Purplestem Angelica, Cow-parsnip, Canadian Burnet, Bog Aster and a variety of bramble and goldenrod. The abundance of lichens and shrubs in the moors contribute to the northern character of the sanctuary.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Several species of seabirds use the islands during nesting season. Eight of the eleven species found on the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve nest in the Betchouane MBS. Although the Common Eider is the most abundant species, the site also supports large numbers of Razorbills, Atlantic Puffins, Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. This protected area is home to other species as well, among them the Black-legged Kittiwake and Black Guillemot. Surveys done over time confirm the presence of shorebirds, such as the Semipalmated Sandpiper. According to surveys carried out in 2010, an estimated 3000 pairs of Common Eider were recorded in the MBS, representing approximately 7.5 of the population nesting in the Estuary and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The presence of such a significant number of bird pairs is testimony to the importance of the site as a protected area for this species.

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 Betchouane 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 specifically authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited, and dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

Access denial or restrictions imposed by the owners of land within the MBS 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 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

  • Map of Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Île à la Chasse, Île Innu, Île à Calculot des Betchouanes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Île Innu and Île à Calculot des Betchouanes as well as a portion of the surrounding waters. The scale of the map is in hundreds of meters.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary 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 Betchouane Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 50° 11' 51 " N 63° 12' 27 " W
Size in hectares (ha) 462 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1925
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations
Main habitat type Rocky outcrops, woodland, herbaceous meadows
Key bird species Common Eider, Atlantic Puffin and Herring Gull
Other species Birds: Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gull, Ring-billed Gull and Common Murre
Plants: Balsam Fir, Purplestem Angelica, Cow-parsnip, Canadian Burnet and Bog Aster
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
9250 - 49th Street
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: