Blue Quills National Wildlife Area
Blue Quills National Wildlife Area (NWA) is in east-central Alberta within the North Saskatchewan River Basin. Blue Quills NWA provides habitat for a variety of songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, grouse and small mammals.
Blue Quills NWA is approximately 190 kilometers (km) northeast of Edmonton. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) acquired this area in 1968 for two reasons. First was to protect and manage upland nesting cover for migratory birds. The other reason was to secure a block of habitat typical of the region's natural vegetation.
The NWA is mostly deciduous forest, grassland, and wetland. People have observed a variety of species in Blue Quills NWA. Most of these observed species are typical of the boreal transition zone. Shorebirds include the sora and American bittern.
Songbirds and waterfowl species include:
- yellow warbler
- black-capped chickadee
- white-throated sparrow
- American widgeon
- northern shoveler
In previous decades, the rusty blackbird and short-eared owl (both species of special concern) were observed in the NWA. However, no comprehensive survey was conducted of the site in the past decade. Little is known about the contemporary species composition.
One can find a small number of water bodies wholly or partially within the NWA. These wetlands have localized watersheds and no defined inlet or outlet. As a result, the NWA’s water fluctuates considerably in response to climate. Many water bodies have been dry for much of the past decade. In wet periods, these wetlands may again absorb water and support breeding waterfowl such as mallard, horned grebe, or American coot.
The NWA is situated in the boreal transition eco region. Therefore, the area has plant species common to both the boreal forest to the north and the aspen parkland to the south. On the higher, drier areas, the site is characterized by old-field meadows and aspen-dominated forest of varying age. The old-field meadows are dominated primarily by introduced species such as bluegrass, smooth brome, and red fescue. Shrubs and forbs include introduced species such as alfalfa and sweet clover along with native species such as snowberry, wild rose, buttercup, and wild strawberry. Aspen and balsam poplar with wildrose, dogwood, wild raspberry and Saskatoon berry in the understory dominate the aspen forest communities. A large area at the southern end of the NWA that was previously seeded to tame forage is now undergoing natural succession and is slowly reverting back to native shrub and tree species.
Find more information on the Blue Quills NWA in the summary table below.
Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all other activities are prohibited in all NWAs. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA Management and Activities section.
Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points.
Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Blue Quills NWA, include:
- wildlife viewing
- non-commercial berry picking
- sport hunting — including with dogs off-leash when hunting migratory game birds without a commercial guide, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, if the hunting is carried out
- in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Alberta for sport hunting in that province; and
- without the use of toxic shot
- activities referred to in items 1 to 3 during the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3)
More information on access and permitting for Blue Quills NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.
Map of the area
This map showing an area in mid-eastern Alberta near St. Paul. The boundaries of Blue Quills National Wildlife Area are indicated. The wildlife area covers a rectangular area to the south of Township Road 582, to the west of St. Paul and to the south-west of Montagnais Lake. The NWA covers portions or whole of several small bodies of water. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intermittent water and roads are all indicated on the map. A small inset shows the NWA’s location in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only. It should not be used to define legal boundaries.
|Protected Area designation||National Wildlife Area|
|Latitude/longitude||54°0' North / 111°23' West|
|Reason for creation of protected area||
|Date created (Gazetted)||1968 - legal description|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||IV -Habitat/Species Management Area|
|Keystone or flagship species||The following species have been observed at Blue Quills NWA in the past:|
|Main habitat type||
|Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)|
|Invasive species||Several introduced plant species are well established species, including:
|Main threats and challenges||
|Management Agency||Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)|
|Public access and usage||Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Blue Quills NWA, include:
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page, any notice posted at the NWA site and the law, the law prevails, as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
9250 - 49th Street NW
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Report a problem or mistake on this page
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