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Pelican Lake (SK059)


Pelican Lake (SK059)

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Latitude 50.529°N
Longitude 105.987°W
Altitude 570 - 630m
Area 208.56km²

Site Description

Pelican Lake is located in south central Saskatchewan, near the town of Moose Jaw. The lake is the largest body of water and the farthest downstream in Thunder Creek valley, approximately 26 km southeast of a series of lakes that compose another IBA site the Paysen, Williams, and Kettlehut Lakes area. There is less upland cover surrounding Pelican Lake than in areas farther up the valley, with native prairie covering only 5% of the land within 1 km of the lake. However, the lakes marshes and shorelines provide productive shorebird and waterfowl habitat.


Large numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl utilize Pelican Lake during both the spring and fall migration. In particular, large numbers of shorebirds have been recorded with as many as 75,000 being estimated in May 1978 (species not determined). Notable numbers of several shorebird species recorded during other surveys include 2,000 American Avocets (as much as 3% of the estimated Canadian population), 1,000 Marbled Godwits (about 10% of the estimated Canadian population), 1,000 Wilsons Phalarope (possibly as much as 1% of the estimated national population), and 233 Black-bellied Plovers. Tundra Swans are also present in large numbers, with as many as 2,075 birds being recorded during fall migration (about 1% of the North American estimated population).

During the summer, the lake is utilized by moulting waterfowl with over 10,000 ducks having been recorded (Mallard, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, and Northern Pintail among others). American White Pelican also concentrate at this lake during the summer with as many as 1,500 birds being recorded (2.7% of the estimated Canadian population). As many as 50 Western Grebes have also been recorded nesting at the lake.

Conservation Issues

The Riverhurst Management Plan (RMP) is a joint conservation project that was developed by Ducks Unlimited through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The Riverhurst Project was initiated in 1990 due to severe droughts that threatened the wetland systems along Thunder Creek valley. Water is now pumped from Lake Diefenbaker into a small lake that forms the source of Thunder Creek. This regular water supply ensures the stability of wetlands along the valley, including Pelican Lake. Three cross-dykes were constructed on Pelican Lake in 1964, 1973, and 1989 by Ducks Unlimited to help maintain water levels.

Pelican Lake has been identified as a regional Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site. A regionally significant site supports either 20,000 shorebirds annually, or 5% of a species flyway population.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Tundra Swan
Number Year Season
American White Pelican
Number Year Season
Franklin's Gull
Number Year Season