Pointe-au-Père National Wildlife Area

Notice

Pointe-au-Père National Wildlife Area is open to the public for day-use only.

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Pointe-au-Père National Wildlife Area (NWA) is 22 hectares (ha) in size and consists of a small intertidal marsh on the south shore of the Lower Estuary of the St. Lawrence River 5 kilometres east of Rimouski. It protects important habitat for many migratory birds and shorebirds.

Description

The NWA was established in 1986 by Environment and Climate Change Canada for the purpose of protecting many habitats. This includes a spartina (a type of grass) marsh, a very popular habitat for thousands of migratory birds during their migration and nesting periods. The wildlife area is one of the best shorebird-watching sites in Québec.

Landscape view of Pointe-au-Père
Pointe-au-Père National Wildlife Area, landscape

The area features this marsh dotted with brackish ponds and shielded from the St. Lawrence by a rocky point. The Sainte-Anne River crosses the marsh from east to west. It courses through a variety of habitats. For example, a stretch of brackish ponds with salt meadow and smooth cordgrass or eelgrass beds to salt meadows with carex and grasses and bordered by sweet gale and other shrubs can be found.

The wildlife area is part of a limited network of bird staging areas that run the length of shorebird migratory routes. More than 120 bird species visit the site often, and around 15 of them also nest there. Species at risk, such as the peregrine falcon, are observed on occasion.

In the spring, flocks of least sandpipers congregate at the site, sometimes in flocks of more than 500 individuals. Birds that feed in the marshes include great blue heron, black-crowned night-heron and large communities of brants.

Least sandpiper. Photo: Benoît Audet

In the summer, many birds raise their young and feed on the plentiful invertebrates in the brackish ponds, including:

  • American black ducks
  • mallards
  • northern pintails
  • green-winged teals

During the fall migration, the most common species at the NWA includes red-throated loons, common loons. At that time of year a large numbers of Canada geese can also be found on site.

Large communities of sanderlings, semipalmated sandpipers and white-rumped sandpiper also use the area.

As many as ten or more species of mammals use this site, including:

  • muskrats
  • masked shrews
  • meadow jumping mice
  • meadow voles

Despite its small size, the Pointe-au-Père NWA is exposed to a number of threats that could potentially compromise its ecological integrity, such as:

  • nearby urban and industrial development
  • disturbance due to human activity
  • wastewater contamination
  • risk of oil spills associated with marine transportation

More information on Pointe-au-Père NWA is provided 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. You can also consult the Pointe-au-Père NWA management plan.

Access to the Pointe-au-Père NWA is restricted to designated areas. 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 Pointe-au-Père NWA, include:

  • Non-commercial wildlife viewing on designated trails and at lookouts and observation towers and in designated areas
  • Non-commercial hiking on designated trails
  • Participation in a non-commercial group meal or non-commercial group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas 
  • Non-commercial operation of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle on designated roads and in designated parking areas

Permits may be issued for research activities in keeping with the priorities set out in the management plan for the wildlife area. Permits may also be issued for other conservation activities such as surveys, or the enhancement or restoration of habitat.

Priority will be given to collaborative activities with local agencies and organizations to promote the protection and the conservation of wildlife species and their habitat in the NWA. For example, initiatives could be launched or continued with the following entities:

  • universities or research centers to address gaps in scientific knowledge
  • the province to implement recovery measures for species at risk (particularly those falling under provincial jurisdiction)
  • non-governmental organizations or municipal authorities to build public awareness of the wildlife area's objectives

More information on access and permitting can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Notice from Environment and Climate Change Canada

Notice from Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pointe-au-Père NWA [PDF - 64KB]

Environment and Climate Change Canada would like to inform the public that the Pointe-au-Père NWA -- located approximately 10 km northeast of downtown Rimouski -- is a protected area. Since its creation in 1986, the NWA has been protecting migratory birds, wildlife and wetland habitats, as well as species at risk.

To protect the area, the Department is informing NWA visitors of their obligation to follow certain rules, as dictated by the Canada Wildlife Act and its corresponding regulations. Anyone who fails to follow these rules or obey the laws in effect may be subject to fines and prosecution.

Hiking, nature viewing and photography are authorized in designated areas (trails, kiosks, lookouts, roads and parking lots). These activities are prohibited elsewhere in the NWA, outside designated areas.

Without a permit issued by the Minister, it is strictly prohibited for anyone in the area to:

  • circulate (on foot or on any mode of transportation) except in designated areas;
  • hunt or fish;
  • destroy or remove a plant;
  • allow any domestic animal to run at large;
  • swim, picnic, camp or carry on any other recreational activity or light a fire;
  • dump or deposit any trash.

For complete information on all applicable regulations, please consult the Canada Wildlife Act; Wildlife Area Regulations; Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994; and Species at Risk Act at Environment and Climate Change Canada website.

To file a complaint or report illegal activities, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada by telephone at 1-800-668-6767 or by email at enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca.

This notice shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any Aboriginal treaty or other rights of Aboriginal peoples.

Map of the area

Map of Pointe-au-Père NWA
Long description

Map showing the area near Pointe-au-Père, Quebec. The boundaries of the Pointe-au-Père NWA are indicated. The National Wildlife Area (NWA) covers a portion of the land and intertidal water between road 132 and the St. Laurence River. It is located south-west of Rivière Sainte-Anne and to the west of Pointe-au-Père. The scale on the map is in km. Permanent water, intertidal zones, 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.

Summary table

Summary table of Pointe-au-Père NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Québec
Latitude/longitude 48°31' North / 68°28' West
Size 22 ha
Reason for Creation of protected area Protection of various habitats including a spartina marshes frequented by migratory birds and other habitats important to shorebirds.
Date created (Gazetted) 1986 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Strict Nature Reserve (Ia): protected area managed mainly for scientific purpose or to protect wildlife ressources.
Additional designations Part of the Rimouski Important Bird Area (IBA)
Keystone or flagship species Least sandpipers, saltmeadow cordgrass and smooth cordgrass
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Peregrine falcon
Main habitat type Interdidal marsh
Faunistic and floristic importance The wildlife area is part of a limited network of staging areas running the length of migratory routes. This makes it an important site for shorebirds and waterbirds.
Invasive species Information not available
Other species Birds: Mammals:
  • muskrat
  • masked shrew
  • meadow jumping mouse
  • meadow vole
Main threats and challenges
  • nearby urban and industrial development
  • disturbance due to human activity
  • wastewater contamination
  • risk of oil spills
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 Pointe-au-Père NWA, include:
  • Non-commercial wildlife viewing on designated trails and at lookouts and observation towers and in designated areas
  • Non-commercial hiking on designated trails
  • Participation in a non-commercial group meal or non-commercial group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas 
  • Non-commercial operation of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle on designated roads and in designated parking areas

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. 

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected areas
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, QC G1J 0C3
Toll-Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

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