Murray Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Photo of Mallards
Photo: © Mallards.

Murray Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 30 km north of North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Murray Lake is a relatively large, deep lake located in the Aspen Parkland ecoregion of Saskatchewan. Water levels do not fluctuate severely, as the lake is connected by a short canal to adjacent Jackfish Lake, and several creeks including Crystal Creek and Lost Horse Creek supplement runoff waters from the surrounding rolling terrain. The shoreline is steep in several places, and vegetated with sedges and associated grasses to the water's edge.

Dense stands of emergent and wet meadow plant species occur on the deltas of Lost Horse and Crystal creeks and at the junction of the canal from Jackfish Lake and Murray Lake. Submergent vegetation is largely beds of pondweed in the deeper water. The large steep-sided island in the southeast portion of the lake is vegetated with a variety of grasses, shrubs and trees.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Murray Lake MBS was one of five new sanctuaries established on November 3, 1948, as replacements for five other MBSs that were delisted. Several evaluations of the sanctuary carried out by the Canadian Wildlife Service have recognized its importance as a fall staging area for waterfowl. Murray Lake is primarily used by waterfowl as a staging area in the spring and fall. Over 6000 ducks have been recorded at one time in the fall. Use by geese is less extensive. Waterfowl production is limited to the marshy area where small numbers of dabbling and diving ducks breed.

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 the lake, or via the many provincial and municipal road access points. The Moosomin and Saulteux First Nations are adjacent to the north boundary of Murray Lake, and the Village of Cochin is on the northwestern end of the lake. Nine major public roads provide access to the sanctuary.

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

  • Map of Murray Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Murray Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Saskatchewan, Tucker Island, Cochin, Jackfish Lake and Murray Lake. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Murray Lake and portions of surrounding land. The scale of the map is in tenths of kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Murray 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 Murray Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 53°03' N, 108°17' W
Size in hectares (ha) 1589 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1948
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category VI - Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Open water (60%), sedge meadow/marsh (36%), island (4%)
Key bird species Diving and dabbling ducks, geese, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Grebe, Franklin's Gull, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Sora, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson's Phalarope, American White Pelican, Ring-billed Gull, Common Tern and American Avocet.
Other species Birds: Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Marsh Wren, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Mountain Bluebird, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Baltimore Oriole, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Le Conte's Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow and Song Sparrow.
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Prairie and Northern Region
Landowners Province of Saskatchewan and private

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)
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