Mohawk Island National Wildlife Area
Mohawk Island National Wildlife Area (NWA) is a small, 4-hectare (ha), sparsely vegetated limestone outcrop located in eastern Lake Erie. It lies approximately 20 kilometers (km) to the southwest of Port Colborne, Ontario, near the mouth of the Grand River.
The island consists mainly of open limestone barrens with an elevated gravel bar along the eastern shoreline; it is greatly affected by the strong wind events that frequently overwash the entire island. The sparse vegetation is limited to thin soils found in small depressions and rock crevices. Mohawk Island was once named Gull Island because of the large numbers of gulls and terns that rested on the Island.
The NWA was established in 1978 to protect colonial nesting waterbirds. It is an important nesting site for several species of waterbirds, primarily:
- herring gulls
- ring-billed gulls
- common terns
- double-crested cormorants
The natural features of the island provide excellent loafing habitat as well as refuge from predators. It offers easy access to food supply, and having minimal human disturbance for the young nestlings. Populations of the colonial waterbirds at Mohawk Island NWA have been monitored since the 1970s. The waterbirds are also part of long-term toxicity monitoring studies undertaken by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The island provides a stopover site for many species of migratory birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds during spring and fall migration. Waterfowl often seen in the area include species such as:
- Canada goose
- common goldeneye
Shorebirds such as sandpipers are also often present. They pass through and use the island for loafing and as a stopover site when crossing Lake Erie along the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways.
Although the surrounding area supports a wealth of bird species, there are very few other types of animals present on the island. The sparse terrestrial vegetation offers little cover or food for vertebrate residents. Eastern Garter Snakes live among the foundations of the lighthouse on the island; this is the only other wildlife species reported as surviving on the island. To date, no species at risk have been recorded on Mohawk Island NWA.
Find more information on Mohawk Island NWA in summary table the 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.
Access to the Mohawk Island NWA is seasonally restricted. Public access is prohibited from April 1 to August 31 every year to protect migratory birds during nesting. Some activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan. 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 Mohawk Island NWA, include:
- wildlife viewing during the period beginning on September 1 in any year and ending on March 31 in the following year
- hiking during the period referred to in item 1
- swimming during the period referred to in item 1
- boat launching and boat landing during the period referred to in item 1
- sport fishing from the shoreline, in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Ontario for sport fishing in that province, during the period referred to in item 1
Activities that are prohibited at all times are:
- overnight camping
- open fires
Mohawk Island NWA is a well-known local landmark and the waters around the island are popular for recreational boating and fishing in the summer months. Permits must be obtained from the Canadian Wildlife Service and are required to:
- conduct research
More information on access and permitting for Mohawk Island NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.
Map of the area
This map shows the area near Rock Point, Ontario, which extends into Lake Erie. The boundaries of the Mohawk Island National Wildlife Area are indicated. The NWA is locate to the south of Mohawk Bay and to the south-east of Rock point. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water and roads are indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA’s location in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.
|Protected Area designation||National Wildlife Area|
|Latitude/Longitude||Latitude 42°50'05"N / Longitude -79°31'22"W|
|Size||4 ha (dependent on Lake Erie water levels)|
|Reason for creation of protected area||Island habitat is a significant geographic feature in eastern Lake Erie and an important nesting and loafing site for significant numbers and several species of colonial fish-eating waterbirds. Loafing and stopover area for waterfowl and shorebirds during spring and fall migration along the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways.|
|Date created (Gazetted)||1978 – Legal Description|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||Strict Nature Reserve: (Ia)|
|Additional designations||North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Bird Conservation Area 13|
|Keystone or flagship species||Colonial waterbirds including:|
|Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)||None recorded|
|Main habitat type||Lake Erie Lowland|
|Non-native and invasive species||
Amphibians and Reptiles:
|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 Mohawk Island NWA, include:
Activities that are prohibited at all times are:
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 - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
4905 Dufferin Street
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
- Canada Wildlife Act
- Wildlife Area Regulations
- Mohawk Island NWA management plan
- Mohawk Island NWA pamphlet
- Mohawk Island NWA on Google maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name).
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