A mother duck and her ducklings hang out at the Campbell River Estuary on Baikie Island. The province has been working since 2009 to designate the area as a Wildlife Management Area in order to offer it more protection.

Greater protection sought for Campbell River Estuary

The province has been trying since 2009 to designate Baikie Island a Wildlife Management Area

It’s been eight years and the province is still trying to establish greater protections for the Campbell River Estuary.

The ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations has recently applied to Front Counter BC to amend a section of the Crown wildlife reserve to designate all 80 hectares of the untenured foreshore in the estuary as a Wildlife Management Area.

Such a designation seeks to protect fish and wildlife habitat through the province’s Wildlife Act. The creation of a Wildlife Management Area is a joint process between the city, the province and its partners such as the Nature Trust of BC.

Terri Martin, the city’s environmental specialist, said the creation of a Wildlife Management Area “builds on the work of the last Estuary Management Plan completed in 2002 and complements recent works to restore Baikie Island.”

The former industrial area was purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada several years ago and given to the city with registered covenants and the expectation that the city would manage the ecologically-sensitive area.

With the help of Greenways Land Trust, habitat restoration efforts and maintenance such as clearing the area of invasive species and planting native plants have been ongoing.

An estuary clean-up project organized by the Nature Trust of BC, working closely with the Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Marine Harvest and Ducks Unlimited Canada, took place last September and more than 10 tonnes of garbage was removed from the estuary.

Efforts have also been made to track the movements of Canada Geese in the estuary which have been wreaking havoc and putting the natural habitat at risk.

“Concerns have grown around the damage caused to restored areas of the estuary by non-native Canada Geese coming to the estuary to moult,” Martin said. “Council recently heard how 1,400 geese have caused significant damage, consuming tonnes of vegetation (sedges in particular) which are vital to fish and wildlife.”

Martin said the city, along with its partners, needs to get a handle on the Canada Goose issue before it goes any further with its remediation efforts.

“All groups would like to restore more estuary habitat but are now aware this is not possible without reducing the Canada Goose moult population in the estuary,” she said, but added that establishing a Wildlife Management Area will help “bring resources and management attention to the Canada Goose issue.”

In the meantime, the Nature Trust is in the process of organizing an Estuary Working Group meeting to discuss “restoration, management and public use of the estuary,” Martin said.

She added that the Nature Trust would like to present more information to city council sometime this fall to keep council apprised of any developments and what role the city can play in the Wildlife Management Area.