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Scotch Bonnet Island and Mohawk Island National Wildlife Areas Management Plan

Document information

Acknowledgements:

This management plan was prepared by Laurie Maynard of the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment and Climate Change Canada. The following Canadian Wildlife Service employees provided expert input and review of earlier drafts: D.V. Chip Weseloh, David J. Moore, Craig Hebert, Hans Blokpoel (retired), Shawn Meyer, Lesley Dunn, Andrea Kettle, Jeffrey Robinson and Shane de Solla. Thanks to current and former Canadian Wildlife Service staff Paul Watton, Marie-Claude Archambault, Corey Nugent, Shady Abbas and Sarah Rice for preparing maps and figures. Holly Bickerton combined existing management plans for Scotch Bonnet Island National Wildlife Area (NWA) and Mohawk Island NWA into this single version, and provided assistance with editing and review.

The majority of the colonial bird data for these two NWAs has been collected over many years by a number of observers. For information on Scotch Bonnet Island, appreciation is extended to the following crew leaders, staff and volunteers for their efforts: Craig Hebert, D.V. Chip Weseloh, Hans Blokpoel, David J. Moore, Hugh Boyd, Kim Williams, Earl Walker, Christine Bishop, Glenn Barrett, John Struger, Pierre Mineau, Cynthia Pekarik, Andy Gilman, Mike Gilbertson, Doug Crump, Laird Shutt, Birgit Braune and Larry Benner. For information on Mohawk Island NWA, appreciation is extended to the following crew leaders, staff and volunteers for their efforts: Larry Benner, Hans Blokpoel, R.G.B. Brown, the Buffalo Ornithological Society, Arthur R. Clark, Darrell Dennis, Shane de Solla, Tania Havelka, G.T. Haymes, Craig Hebert, Clive Hodder, Ross James, Gary McCullough, Gerald McKeating, Paul Madore, Shawn Meyer, David J. Moore, Ralph Morris, Stan Teeple, Gaston Tessier, Norm North, George Peck, Cynthia Pekarik, Jeffrey Robinson, Dave Ryckman and D.V. Chip Weseloh. Apologies are given for any names we may have missed.

Hélène Lévesque (Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario) prepared the 1986 Management Plan: Scotch Bonnet Island National Wildlife Area. Janet Planck and Jeffrey Robinson (Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario) prepared the 1985 Management Plan: Mohawk Island National Wildlife Area. Both of these plans provided valuable groundwork for this update.

Copies of this plan are available at the following addresses:

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Public Inquiries Centre
7th Floor, Fontaine Building
200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Telephone: 819-997-2800
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
Ontario Region
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4

Environment and Climate Change Canada Protected Areas website

How to cite this document:

Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2016. Scotch Bonnet Island and Mohawk Island National Wildlife Areas Management Plan, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region, 65 pp.

About environment and climate change Canada protected areas and management plans

What are environment and climate change Canada protected areas?

Environment and Climate Change Canada establishes marine and terrestrial National Wildlife Areas for the purposes of conservation, research and interpretation. National Wildlife Areas are established to protect migratory birds, species at risk, and other wildlife and their habitats. National Wildlife Areas are established under the authority of the Canada Wildlife Act and are, first and foremost, places for wildlife. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries are established under the authority of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and provide a refuge for migratory birds in the marine and terrestrial environment.

What is the size of the environment and climate change Canada protected areas network?

The current Protected Areas Network consists of 54 National Wildlife Areas and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries comprising more than 12 million hectares across Canada.

What is a management plan?

A management plan provides the framework in which management decisions are made. They are intended to be used by Environment and Climate Change Canada staff to guide decision making, notably with respect to permitting. Management is undertaken in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the protected area and to maintain the attributes for which the protected area was established. Environment and Climate Change Canada prepares a management plan for each protected area in consultation with First Nations and other stakeholders.

A management plan specifies activities that are allowed and identifies other activities that may be undertaken under the authority of a permit. It may also describe the necessary improvements needed in the habitat, and specify where and when these improvements should be made. A management plan identifies Aboriginal rights and allowable practices specified under land claims agreements. Further, measures carried out for the conservation of wildlife must not be inconsistent with any law respecting wildlife in the province in which the protected area is situated.

What is protected area management?

Management includes monitoring wildlife, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, periodic inspections of facilities, enforcement of regulations, as well as the maintenance of signs and infrastructure. Research is also an important activity in protected areas; hence, Environment and Climate Change Canada staff carries out or coordinates research in some sites.

The series

All of the National Wildlife Areas are to have a management plan. All of these management plans will be initially reviewed 5 years after the approval of the first plan, and every 10 years thereafter.

To learn more

To learn more about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s protected areas, please visit our website or contact the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Scotch bonnet island national wildlife area

Scotch Bonnet Island National Wildlife Area (NWA) supports significant populations of colonial nesting waterbirds in Lake Ontario. Scotch Bonnet Island NWA is a small, 1-hectare island, located approximately 4.8 kilometres from the mainland in eastern Lake Ontario, off the west shore of Prince Edward County, Ontario. The island is composed of solid limestone outcroppings around the perimeter and barren ground in the interior. The island is named after one of three north-south trending rises of glacio-lacustrine clay and till, known as the Scotch Bonnet Ridge, in eastern Lake Ontario.

Scotch Bonnet Island NWA was established in 1979 to protect colonially nesting waterbirds and as a site for long-term research. Every spring the island comes alive with the arrival of large numbers of colonial waterbirds, primarily Herring Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants that breed on the island or that rest there throughout the summer. The island is also a stopover site for migratory birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds, during spring and fall migration along the Atlantic flyway.

Its isolation, stable substrate and long history of use by nesting colonial waterbirds make Scotch Bonnet Island NWA an important site for conservation and long-term research. Scotch Bonnet Island NWA is one of several Herring Gull sites in the Great Lakes that are visited as part of a long-term study of persistent toxic chemicals, coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service.

Public access to the Scotch Bonnet Island NWA is prohibited to protect colonial waterbirds and other wildlife from disturbance. Permits issued under the Canada Wildlife Act are required to conduct research, surveys and monitoring at Scotch Bonnet Island NWA and must be obtained from the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment and Climate Change Canada. The isolated location and jagged shoreline discourages visitation. The waters around the island are popular for recreational boating and fishing in the summer months, and the local area is used by waterfowl hunters in the fall.

A stone lighthouse on the western end of the island was built in 1856 to alert mariners to the presence of a nearby shoal. By the early 1970s, due to waves and weather, the ruins of the building and portions of the stone tower were all that remained. In the ensuing years, these structures have continued to deteriorate, and restoration is likely not feasible due to safety hazards and associated expenses. Parks Canada Agency will be completing a more comprehensive review of the structure in the near future. Fisheries and Oceans Canada owns and operates a steel navigation tower and automatic light, constructed in 1959 on the island, to replace the original navigational light.

Scotch Bonnet Island NWA is one of 10 NWAs in Ontario. Its management is being addressed jointly in this management plan with Mohawk Island NWA, because the two areas hold similar importance for colonial waterbirds and share many management issues. This 2016 Scotch Bonnet Island and Mohawk Island National Wildlife Areas Management Plan is an update of the Management Plan: Scotch Bonnet Island National Wildlife Area (Lévesque, 1986) and the Management Plan: Mohawk Island National Wildlife Area (Planck and Robinson, 1985) and replaces all other versions.

Mohawk island national wildlife area

Mohawk Island NWA is a small, 4-hectare sparsely vegetated limestone outcrop located in eastern Lake Erie, approximately 20 kilometres to the southwest of Port Colborne, Ontario, near the mouth of the Grand River. The island consists mainly of open limestone barrens, and is greatly affected by strong winds. The sparse vegetation is limited to thin soils found in small depressions and rock crevices.

Mohawk Island NWA was established in 1978 to protect colonially nesting waterbirds. It is an important nesting site for several species of waterbirds, primarily Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants. The island also provides a stopover site for many species of migratory birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. Populations of the colonial waterbirds at Mohawk Island NWA have been monitored since the 1970s, and are part of long-term study of persistent toxic chemicals, coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service. 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.

There is limited public access to Mohawk Island NWA, which can only be reached by boat. Public access to Mohawk Island is prohibited between April 1 and August 31 to protect colonial nesting waterbirds and other wildlife from disturbance.

Permits issued under the Canada Wildlife Act are required to conduct research, surveys and monitoring at Mohawk Island NWA and must be obtained from the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Public access to Mohawk Island NWA is only allowed from September 1 to March 31 (outside the breeding bird season). Authorized recreational uses at the island during this period include wildlife viewing, picnicking, recreational fishing from shore (no lead sinkers and spears) and swimming.

The only structure on Mohawk Island NWA is a stone lighthouse, located on the south side of the island. The lighthouse was built in the 1840s. It provided a navigational beacon to Lake Erie mariners until the 1960s, when the structure was gutted by fire. The light was removed and replaced by an offshore navigational buoy maintained and operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Today, only the exterior walls of the light tower and house remain. Entry to the stone lighthouse is not allowed due to safety hazards. The structure continues to be subject to vandalism, and the feasibility of maintaining what is left of it has not been determined.

Mohawk Island NWA is one of 10 NWAs in Ontario. Its management is being addressed jointly in this management plan with Scotch Bonnet Island NWA, because the two areas hold similar importance for colonial waterbirds and share many management issues. This 2016 Scotch Bonnet Island and Mohawk Island National Wildlife Areas Management Plan is an update of the Management Plan: Scotch Bonnet Island National Wildlife Area (Lévesque, 1986) and the Management Plan: Mohawk Island National Wildlife Area (Planck and Robinson 1985) and replaces all other versions.

Nothing in this management plan shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

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