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Scott Islands
The Scott Islands support the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in the eastern North Pacific south of Alaska and are considered to be the most important seabird breeding colonies in British Columbia.

Over 2 million seabirds, 40% of the Province’s breeding seabird populations, nest on the Scott islands including: 55% of the world’s population of Cassin’s Auklet; 7% of the world’s population of Rhinoceros Auklet; and 2% of the world’s population of Tufted Puffin (which also comprises 90% of the national population for this species). The islands also support 95% of the Province’s breeding Common Murres and are the only known nesting site of Thick-billed Murres in Western Canada.

In total, 7 of the 12 seabirds breeding on the Scott Islands are designated as species of provincial concern. Because of their significance for seabirds, the Scott Islands are recognized internationally as a globally Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, a global partnership of conservation organizations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats, and global biodiversity.

Other unique wildlife of the Scott Islands include:

·         Steller’s Sea Lions (Endangered)
·         Harbor Seals
·         Sea Otters (Endangered)
·         Bald Eagles
·         Peale’s Peregrine Falcon
·         Keen’s Mouse (Endemic)
·         Townsend’s Vole (Endemic)
·         Short-tailed Albatross (Vulnerable)
·         Pink-footed Shearwater (Vulnerable)

The Scott Islands archipelago comprises five major islands, Cox, Lanz, Beresford, Sartine and Anne Vallée (Triangle), offshore of Cape Scott at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The islands are remote and in near-pristine condition.

Lanz and Cox Islands
 
Cox Island (978 ha) has a rugged, rocky shoreline and a peak elevation of 312 m. Lanz Island (764 ha) is slightly smaller, rising to a high point of 212 m. Both islands are densely forested, dominated by Sitka Spruce on the seaward sides, and Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar in the interior.

The coasts are fringed by stands of salal, willow, elder, alder and honeysuckle that can form an impenetrable barrier in some places. In the interior, crab-apple, alder, elder, salal, false azalea, and small-leaved huckleberry and other woodland herbaceous plants such as twayblade, foam flower, single delight, goldthread, and bunchberry are common.
 
Socio-cultural value
 
Historically, the Scott Islands were occupied and utilized by the Yutlinuk people (Yut'linuxw), or Yulenox, a relatively unknown Kwakwaka'waka tribal group that formed part of the Nahwitti Tribes. Documentary evidence points to the continued use of the traditional Yutlinuk territory off Cape Scott, particularly for the procurement of seabird eggs. Unverified ethno-historical cultural sites are reported from both Lanz and Cox islands, but neither island has been surveyed. Today, the islands are uninhabited, and are situated within the shared asserted traditional territorries of the Tlatlasikwala First Nation and Quatsino First Nation, who primarily use the area for commercial fishing. The Scott Islands and adjacent seas are also used for wildlife conservation and research, fisheries, recreation and tourism.

The issue…

The majority of these seabirds nest on only 3 mammalian-predator free islands: Anne Vallée (Triangle), Sartine and Beresford islands. The two larger islands, Lanz and Cox are nearly devoid of nesting seabirds, which has been attributed to the presence of American mink and raccoon that were introduced to the islands as fur-bearers in the late 1930s. As non-native animals to the islands they have caused the complete loss of pelagic seabird colonies, including the extirpation of the islands’ Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklet colonies, and have contributed to the destabilization of the islands’ ecosystems.

Island Conservation’s Role

Island Conservation and Tides Canada Initiatives (www.tidescanada.org), together with our partners, BC Parks, Ministry of Environment, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, the Quatsino First Nation, and the Tlatlasikwala First Nation are working together to restore the Scott Islands by removing invasive species from Lanz and Cox islands. Removal of introduced American mink and raccoon from the Lanz and Cox islands will help to restore the biological diversity and protect their internationally renowned seabird colonies.
 
You can learn more about this project by visiting the Canadian Wildlife Service's Scott Islands webpage.

 
 

Funding for this project was provided in part by the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program, a Government of Canada initiative.


Le Programme de partenariat sur les espèces exotiques envahissantes, une initiative parrainée par le gouvernement du Canada, a assuré en partie le financement de ce projet.

 

Lanz Island Beach. Photo Courtesy of Chris Gill
Bald Eagle flying overhead in the Scott Islands
Chief Tom Wallace of the Tlatlasikwala First Nation addressing the group on Lanz Island. Photo Courtesy of Chris Gill
Rhinoceros Auklet. Photo Courtesy of Mike Bush
Triangle Island. Photo Courtesy of Chris Gill


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