The designated area for the WMA.

The designated area for the WMA.

Quatse Estuary designated as protected area

Quatse Estuary Wildlife Management Area established to protect wildlife.

PORT HARDY—Wildlife habitat on northern Vancouver Island is better protected this week following the establishment of the Quatse Estuary Wildlife Management Area.

Monday’s announcement by Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson conserves 157 hectares of critical river estuary on Vancouver Island just south and east of Port Hardy.

The area is widely considered one of the top 10 estuary habitats on Vancouver Island, providing critical rearing and spawning habitat for all seven Pacific salmon species as well as wintering habitat to thousands of migratory birds.

“North Islanders have long appreciated the dynamic ecosystem that is the Quatse River Estuary and are delighted to see the Province recognize its significance,” Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham said. “The estuary, as home to spawning salmon, migratory and resident waterfowl, eagles and herons is a popular attraction for locals, visitors and researchers who enjoy the trail and wildlife viewing area. The designation as a wildlife management area will help to conserve this important habitat and the wildlife it supports.”

Quatse Estuary is the third new wildlife management area established in 2013, joining new conservation areas established this year near Penticton and Valemount. More than 244,000 hectares in the province are now designated as wildlife management areas.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations works to maintain and restore the province’s ecological diversity of fish and wildlife species and their habitats.

One way the ministry meets these goals is through the management of the province’s various types of conservation lands, including the establishment of wildlife management areas under Section 4 of the Wildlife Act.

This designation gives the ministry additional tools to manage the land and associated land uses.

“Wildlife management areas help protect critical wildlife habitat,” said Thomson. “Our government will continue to seek new opportunities like this one to establish or expand valuable conservation areas.”

Several partners assist the Province with the background work required to recommend sites for designation including Ducks Unlimited Canada, The Nature Trust of BC, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation also contributes funding to help with designations in addition to funding for day-to-day management of the sites after they are designated.