Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area

Notice

Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area is open to the public for day-use only according to the established schedule. Interpretive activities are now open.

Respect the environment and leave no trace.

Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

The Cap Tourmente National Widlife Area (NWA) is near Saint-Joachim, Quebec. It is a very important place for many birds like snow geese.

Description

The Cap Tourmente NWA, made up of marshland, plains and forests, is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, 50 kilometres (km) east of Québec City. Established in 1978 by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), its purpose is to protect the American bulrush marshes that serve as the primary habitat of the greater snow goose during migration periods

The wildlife area was recognized as a Wetland of International Significance under the Ramsar Convention in 1981, becoming the first site to earn this distinction in North America. Its many historic buildings testify to more than 400 years of human occupation and farming activity, making it one of the founding sites of Canada.

Situated at the junction of the Canadian Shield, the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Appalachians, the wildlife area also lies at the confluence of the Upper and Fluvial estuaries of the St. Lawrence. The territory offers contrasting landscapes shaped by the meeting of the river, large coastal marshes, plains and mountains, and features a multitude of habitats that are home to a very wide diversity of animal and plant species. The wildlife area is home to more than 180 bird species, 30 mammal species, 22 types of forest stands and 700 plant species. Many of these species are at risk, including the peregrine falcon, the bobolink, and the butternut.

In spring and fall, migratory birds congregate in the narrow corridor framed by the river and the cape's escarpment and invade the mosaic of habitats in the wildlife area. The area is renowned for the awe-inspiring spectacle of the greater snow geese gathering at the site by the tens of thousands during migration.

In addition to 20 different duck and goose species, some 10 or more species of birds of prey and 30 warbler species have been observed.

In the spring Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow makes the wildlife area one of its rare nesting sites on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, while the presence of the bobolink is also worthy of mention. Additionally, birds that frequent the NWA consist of wood duck, northern harrier, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, American redstart, red-winged blackbirds, swamp sparrows and American black ducks.

Nearly 20 species are observed in the winter, including black-capped chickadee, blue jay, and barred owl. Among the mammals, the most common are the muskrat, the white-tailed deer and the red squirrel. The American porcupine, the red fox, and the American black bear are also observed on occasion.

The primary threats and management challenges to the ecological integrity of the Cap Tourmente NWA include neighbouring land development, poaching, invasive alien plants, and the impact of visitors.

Find more information on Cap Tourmente NWA in the summary table below.

Management

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.

Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Cap Tourmente NWA, include:

  1. non-commercial wildlife viewing on the road between the entrance to the wildlife area and the interpretation centre and on designated trails and at lookouts and observation towers and in designated areas
  2. non-commercial hiking on the road between the entrance to the wildlife area and the interpretation centre and on designated trails
  3. participation in a non-commercial group meal or non-commercial group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas
  4. non-commercial operation of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on the road between the entrance to the wildlife area and the interpretation centre and in designated parking areas
  5. non-commercial snowshoeing on designated trails
  6. activities referred to in items 1 to 5 in designated areas during designated periods between sunset and sunrise, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3)

Planning your visit

The natural beauty and many outdoor activities available at Cap Tourmente make this NWA a wonderful place to spend a day. Whether you're interested in hiking, wildlife observation, photography or one off the various interactive programs that are offered seasonally, you're sure to find something for every member of the family. The recommended visit duration is 2 to 4 hours.

Detailed information about the activities offered at Cap Tourmente NWA are found in the Activities Pamphlet.

From May through October you can enjoy:

  • 20 kilometres (km) of hiking trails through a mosaic of habitats - Map of Hiking Trails (spring-summer-fall)
  • interpretation centre
  • discovery tools
    • On the Fox's Trail nature rally with GPS
    • geocaches
    • historical trail
    • binoculars and identification guides
    • anti-collision course
    • seek and collect
    • Bigbirds challenge
  • outdoor organized activities (for the general public, school groups and other groups)
  • picnic areas

From January through March you can explore:

  • 6 km of winter hiking trails
  • network of bird feeders
  • welcome area and information in a heated building (on weekends)

Periods and business hours for the 2022-2023 season

Due to COVID-19, periods and business hours are subject to change without notice.

Date Opening hours
From March 14 to April 22 2022 Weekly 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Closed on weekends and on April 15 and 18
From April 23 to October 30 2022 Daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
From October 31 to December 23 2022 Weekly 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Closed on weekends and November 11
From December 24 2022 to January 4 2023 Closed
From January 5 to March 17 2023 Daily from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
From March 18 to March 31 2023 Weekly 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Closed on weekends
Interpretive activities schedule for the 2022-2023 season – Individual clientele
Period Frequency Activity
From May 7 to May 23 2022 Weekends Focus on the geese
From May 28 to June 26 2022 Weekends A pilgrim coming from afar
From September 24 to October 30 2022 Daily Focus on the geese

The schedule of activities is subject to change without notice.

For more information, please contact: (418) 827-4591 or cap.tourmente@ec.gc.ca

Public facilities

Toilets, interpretation centre, parking. These facilities are accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Special warning

  • There are bears present within the territory
  • there may be biting insects during the summer season
  • camping is prohibited at all times
  • certain parts of the NWA are used for hunting waterfowl in the fall

No food service is available on site.

Dogs are allowed, but it is mandatory that they be kept on a leash.

Please note

Access to the Cap Tourmente NWA is restricted to designated areas and times of the year, and subject to payment of an entrance fee. Access to Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (NWA) is forbidden outside of these opening times. The NWA can be closed without notice. Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points.

For more information on what is permitted in NWAs, consult the NWA Management and Activities page.

Fees

Adults: $6
Students: $5
Winter: $4
Free for a child under 12 years old accompanied by an adult
Passes and group rates available

Directions

Entrance geographic coordinates

47°03.860' N 70°47.774' W

From Québec City, follow Route 138 toward Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. At Beaupré, follow the posted signs for the NWA.

Map of the area

Map of Cap Tourmente NWA
Long description

Map showing south-eastern Quebec and a section of the St. Lawrence River. The boundaries of the Cap Tourmente NWA are indicated. The wildlife area overlaps a portion of the St. Lawrence River shoreline roughly following the intertidal water line to the east of Beaupre and Saint-Joachim and to the south of the Rivière Sainte-Anne and highway 138. The wildlife area extends inland in several irregularly shaped pieces all located very closely together. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intertidal water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Controlled fall hunt program for the greater snow goose

Notice

Cancellation of the 2022 season of the Hunt Program for the Greater Snow Goose

As a result of the COVID-19 situation, the 2022 season of the Fall Hunt Program is cancelled. This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of participants and employees. 

Hunting for the greater snow goose is permitted in October within the wildlife area with an ECCC permit. Registration is mandatory between February and April, and the hunting permits are issued through a random draw in May.

More information on access and permitting for Cap Tourmente NWA can be obtained by contacting the regional office.

Summary table

Summary information for the Cap Tourmente NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Québec
Latitude/longitude 47°05' North / 70°47' West
Size 2,308 ha
Reason for Creation of protected area Protecting the bulrush marsh, the main habitat of the greater snow goose during migration
Date created (Gazetted)  1978 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation (IUCN) Management Category IV - Habitat/Species Management Area: protected area aim to protect particular species or habitats and management reflects this priority.
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species 
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Birds:

Mammals:

Insects:

Vascular plants:

Numerous other species are classified as at risk under provincial legislation.

Main habitat type Intertidal marsh and broad expanses of American bulrush.
Faunistic and floristic importance Presence of wetlands, agricultural fields and forest providing a popular staging area for migratory birds and important breeding grounds. Wide diversity of plant and animal species and habitats within a relatively limited area. Presence of wildlife and plant species at risk.
Invasive species
  • wild chervil
  • smooth bedstraw
  • common reed (Phragmites australis)
  • rough mannagrass
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • garden yellow loosestrife
  • common valerian
  • creeping yellow loosestrife
Additional links Birds:

Mammals: 

Main threats and challenges Neighbouring land development, poaching, invasive alien plants, impact of visitors.
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 Cap Tourmente NWA, include:
  1. Non-commercial wildlife viewing on the road between the entrance to the wildlife area and the interpretation centre and on designated trails and at lookouts and observation towers and in designated areas
  2. Non-commercial hiking on the road between the entrance to the wildlife area and the interpretation centre and on designated trails
  3. Participation in a non-commercial group meal or non-commercial group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas
  4. Non-commercial operation of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on the road between the entrance to the wildlife area and the interpretation centre and in designated parking areas
  5. Non-commercial snowshoeing on designated trails
  6. Activities referred to in items 1 to 5 in designated areas during designated periods between sunset and sunrise, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3)

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Notice from Environment and Climate Change Canada

Download PDF version (PDF; 65 KB)

We would like to inform the public that the Cap Tourmente NWA, located in the Municipality of Saint-Joachim, is a protected area. Established in 1978, the purpose of the NWA is to protect migratory birds, wildlife and their habitats, as well as several species at risk.

To protect this area, we would also like to inform people circulating in the NWA of their obligation to comply with the rules of the Canada Wildlife Act and the Wildlife Area Regulations. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in a fine or prosecution.

Activities allowed without a permit but with a right of access in designated developed areas (trails, observation areas, as well as resting and picnic areas) are: hiking, nature observation, photography and picnics. Picnics are permitted only on benches, tables and in observation areas. During winter, snowshoeing is permitted only on open marked trails.

Without a permit issued by the Minister specifying the authorized activities, the following are prohibited in the NWA:

  • walking off developed trails and access roads
  • using any means of transportation; for example, snowmobiling is prohibited across the NWA
  • damaging, destroying or removing a plant
  • having a domestic animal without a leash
  • dumping or depositing any garbage or substance that would degrade or alter the quality of the environment
  • engaging in recreational activities
  • camping, or starting or maintaining a fire

For complete information about the applicable regulations, please consult the Wildlife Area Regulations.

To file a complaint or report illegal activities, please contact us by phone at 1-800-668-6767 or email at ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca.

Nothing in this notice infringes on ancestral rights or Aboriginal treaty rights.

Contact us

Cap Tourmente NWA
570 chemin du Cap-Tourmente
Saint-Joachim, Québec G0A 3X0

Administration: 418-827-3776
Interpretation center: 418-827-4591
Fax number: 418-827-6225
Email: cap.tourmente@ec.gc.ca

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, Québec G1J 0C3

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: Enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

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