Shepherd Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Common Eider
Photo: © Common Eider.

Shepherd Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is a rugged island with bedrock outcrops, located in the District of Strait of Belle Isle in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is approximately 18 ha in size. The areas behind the shore are generally steep, but not vertical, and are frequently washed over by waves of sea water. The island has patchy vegetation consisting mainly of low-growing ericaceous plants that tolerate acidic soil, with lichen and moss, as well as limited areas of salt marsh cordgrass and cow-parsnip.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Shepherd Island MBS supports nesting colonies of Common Eider, which require isolated locations. These birds normally nest on offshore islands that limit their geographical distribution. Together with Ile aux Canes MBS, Shepherd Island has been one of the largest breeding sites for Common Eider in insular Newfoundland.

Eiders, for which the sanctuary was designated, use this island for nesting. Nesting is either in the low-growing vegetation or in more open locations.

Based on the most recent surveys, the population has seen a marked decline from 86 nesting pairs of Common Eider in 1988 to 2 pairs in 2001. Despite the decline on Shepherd Island, it is possible that birds from here are moving to nearby Green Island (Île aux Canes). In recent years, the nesting eiders on both islands have been under pressure from predation by fox and Polar Bear.

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 Shepherd Island 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 landowner (Province of Newfoundland and Labrador) 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

  • Map showing the Shepherd Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Shepherd Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary in relation to Newfoundland, Bell Island, Shepard Island and the Labrador Sea. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Shepard Island as well as a portion of the surrounding waters in the Labrador Sea. 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. Shepherd Island 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 Shepherd Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Newfoundland and Labrador
Latitude/longitude 50°44' N, 55°39'40” W
Size in hectares (ha) 18 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1991
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations Part of Bell Island South Coast Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Rugged island with bedrock outcrops and patchy vegetation; backshore areas are generally precipitous.
Key bird species Common Eider
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
Landowner Province of Newfoundland and Labrador

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)
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