Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Vaseux Lake.
Photo: © Vaseux Lake.

Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 5 km south of Okanagan Falls on Highway 97 in the Okanagan Valley of southern British Columbia. Vaseux Lake is in the Osoyoos-Arid Biotic Area, which is a northern extension of the Great Basin Desert. The MBS is adjacent to and partially overlaps with the Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area (NWA). This NWA is unique in Canada, with many plant and animal species that are at the northern extreme of their range. The channelized Okanagan River flows into the north end of the lake and drains it at its south end. The shallow lake is heavily grown in with dense mats of Eurasian water-milfoil.

Lands between the eastern shore and Highway 97, which runs parallel to the lake, are predominantly privately owned, as are lands on the southern shore, which have dense cottage development. The remainder of the shoreline consists of Crown land, much of which is under federal management. Hatfield Island (privately owned) in the southern half of the lake is used by more than 200 Canada Geese for nesting.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The MBS was originally established to provide protection to Trumpeter Swans. Canada Geese use the site extensively and nest in numbers exceeding 200 on Hatfield Island. Canada Geese numbers have risen spectacularly in the valley in recent years. Ducks, coots and grebes frequent Vaseux Lake, and many overwinter when open water is available. Great Blue Herons and Common Loons are also residents of this lake.

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 Vaseux Lake MBS is not restricted. However, the use of motorized boats is prohibited. 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.

Access prohibitions or restrictions by the MBS landowners (there are many private landowners on the east and southern shores of the lake) may also apply to the upland portion of the MBS.

The federal lands in the Vaseux-Bighorn NWA are closed to public access with the exception of the parking lot and kiosk west of Highway 97 at the north end of the lake.

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 of Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Black Pond Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Prince Edward Island, the Northumberland Strait and Little Harbour. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which follow a portion of the Little Harbour shoreline and extend inland. The scale of the map is in tenths of a kilometer.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Vaseux 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 Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory British Columbia
Latitude/longitude 49°17' N, 119°32' W
Size in hectares (ha) 559 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1923
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Main habitat type Shallow lake
Key bird species Trumpeter Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe, Great Blue Heron and Common Loon, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Osprey, Virginia Rail, Sora, and Belted Kingfisher
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Great Blue Heron
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon Region
Landowner Canadian Wildlife Service, Province of British Columbia and private

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pacific and Yukon Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Ecosystem Conservation
5421 Robertson Road
Delta BC V4K 3N2
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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