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Sage Creek (AB065)

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Sage Creek (AB065)

Onefour, Alberta

Latitude 49.250°N
Longitude 110.371°W
Altitude 850 - 1,015m
Area 3,005.48km²

Site Description

The Sage Creek area is located in the extreme southeastern portion of Alberta, bordering Saskatchewan and Montana. The small communities of Onefour and Wild Horse are encompassed by the site, while Medicine Hat is about 90 km to the north. Two major roads, Highway 41 and Secondary Highway 501, bisect this large area. The Sage Creek site is at the western extremity of part of the largest block of mixed grassland remaining in Canada. Within this large site are: areas of extensive mixed grassland, ephemeral saline wetlands, numerous streams and streamside shrubs, as well as small areas of badland habitats. The site contains important habitat for Mule Deer and Pronghorn Antelope and contains several release sites for the nationally endangered Swift Fox. At least 5 species of plants that are rare in Canada, including Flowering Quillwort, Plains Boisduvalia and Runcinate-leaved Rush-pink, are also found at this site.

Birds

The extensive grasslands of the Sage Creek site are important habitat for numerous species of birds at risk in Canada. The nationally endangered prairie population of the Sage Grouse, whose numbers in Canada are estimated at, at most, about 800 individuals (1997), have several leks in the area. Although surveys have not been done, at least of 1% of the Canadian population is thought to occur here. The whole site is considered the centre of the currently shrinking range of this nationally endangered species. Another nationally endangered species using the site for breeding is the Mountain Plover. Although only found in small numbers as isolated family groups and nesting pairs, these numbers are nationally significant.

Other birds at risk in Canada that nest in the area include: Burrowing Owl (nationally endangered), Long-billed Curlew (nationally vulnerable), Ferruginous Hawk (nationally vulnerable), Spragues Pipit (nationally threatened) and Loggerhead Shrike (nationally threatened). Other uncommon species found in the summer are Sharp-tailed Grouse (several leks), Bobolink and Bairds Sparrow.

Conservation Issues

Most of this area is used as rangeland this means that there are two potential problems for birds in the area. Over-grazing in certain areas can degrade habitat used by birds such as Sharp-tailed Grouse, Long-billed Curlew and Spragues Pipit, while reduction of grazing in other areas can potentially reduce the amount of available Mountain Plover habitat. Mountain Plovers require flat, heavily grazed natural grassland, typically less than 8 cm high, and show a preference for grassland used as pasture during the winter prior to the nesting season. A reduction in grazing, and the subsequent invasion of taller non-native vegetation, could potentially eliminate this habitat. Although more than 95% of the lands in the site are leased by the crown (including a small portion of the Dominion Experimental Research Station and the Sage Creek Grazing Reserve) two Natural Areas, Milk River Lake and Buffalo Trail, are proposed for the Sage Creek site.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Sprague's Pipit
Number Year Season
252016Summer
302013Fall
552012Fall
242006Summer
502004Spring
271995Summer
??Other
Greater Sage-Grouse
Number Year Season
92016Spring
132015Winter
42012Spring
42010Spring
122008Winter
222006Spring
92004Spring
82003Summer
6 - 212003Spring
42002Fall
9 - 232002Spring
13 - 502001Spring
202000Fall
10 - 322000Spring
141995Winter
81995Summer
81995Spring
4 - 51994Spring
12 - 181993Spring
9 - 281992Spring
251991Spring
Chestnut-collared Longspur
Number Year Season
902006Spring
1202005Spring
1002004Summer
1002004Spring
1011995Summer
1031993Summer
1731992Summer
Mountain Plover
Number Year Season
12012Spring
42007Spring
42006Summer
1 - 52006Spring
1 - 32005Summer
12001Summer
1 - 22001Spring
21995Summer
Sage Thrasher
Number Year Season
12016Summer
12015Spring
12012Summer
22009Summer
22003Summer
22002Summer
Burrowing Owl
Number Year Season
232005Summer
10 - 142004Summer
??Other