Species at risk that we protect

At the moment, there are 91 species at risk or of special concern along the Mille Îles River. We have projects targeting the following species:

 

  • Northern pike: With some 700 teeth, these fish are known as “freshwater sharks.”
  • Beaver: Like engineers, they build dams to raise the water level, making it easier for them to fetch their food and giving them access to their lodges year round.
  • Sunfish: These brightly coloured fish are popular with anglers.
  • Fragrant water lily: These showy plants have sweetly scented, delicate white or pink flowers.
  • Gray treefrog: Their dark spots make them look a bit like leopards.
  • Common garter snake: These snakes sport different colours and may have yellow, orange, red, greenish or bluish stripes or even a checkerboard pattern. Like all garter snakes in Quebec, they are not poisonous. 
  • Western osprey: Because these powerful raptors dive nimbly from high in the air and disappear briefly underwater, emerging with their prey, they are also called “fish hawks.”
  • Eastern painted turtle: These are the most commonly seen turtles in the Park, especially on sunny days, when they sun themselves on rocks or tree trunks emerging from the water.
  • Great blue heron: These tall wading birds are the emblem of the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. You’re almost guaranteed to see one of them when out on the river.
  • Tree swallow: These birds flit about feeding on insects they catch in the air. They appreciate the nesting boxes provided for them. Install your own nesting box for a pair and make your own natural insect trap!
  • Wood duck: These ducks nest in holes in hollow trees or in the wooden nesting boxes installed in trees by Éco-Nature.
  • Muskrat: These rodents slow their heart rate and relax their muscles when they dive, allowing them to stay underwater for more than 15 minutes.
  • Swamp smartweed: When in bloom, these shoreline plants turn the riverbanks bright candy pink. The stands they form provide shelter and food for many different animals.
  • Dragonfly: They may look delicate, but some species can reach up to 70 km/h in flight and cover thousands of kilometres when migrating.
  • Yellow walleye: These fish with their flavourful flesh are highly popular with anglers on the Mille Îles River. 
  • Bullfrog: The largest frogs in North America, they have such a loud call that a chorus of several individuals can be heard from half a kilometre away.
  • Black-crowned night heron: To avoid competing with great blue herons that feed in the same habitat, these birds hunt by night while great blue herons are sleeping.
  • Big brown bat: These are the most common of the eight bat species found in the Park. They’ve managed to adapt to urban life and do us a favour by eating harmful insects.
  • Silver maple: These trees are the stars of swamps. They easily tolerate sporadic flooding and manage to “breathe” when their roots are underwater – conditions where few other trees could survive.
  • Common mudpuppy: People often catch these salamanders accidently when ice fishing, and they must be put back.


A few other species you might see in the Park:

  • Rusty patched bumble bee
  • American water-willow
  • Northern long-eared bat
  • Copper redhorse
  • River redhorse
  • Common garter snake
  • Eastern sand darter
  • Common nighthawk
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Channel darter
  • Chimney swift
  • Bridle shiner
  • Monarch butterfly
  • Olive-sided flycatcher
  • Canada warbler
  • Least bittern
  • Little brown bat
  • Tri-coloured bat
  • Common map turtle
  • Common snapping turtle
  • Barn swallow

Our work

  • Rehabilitating injured turtles: In partnership with veterinarians, we care for and rehabilitate injured turtles before they are released.
  • Protecting and monitoring turtle nests: We install screens on turtle nests to protect them from predators. Without protection, 99% of nests are destroyed. Nesting success rates are assessed annually by counting the empty shells once the hatchlings have left the nest. One of the artificial nesting sites protected by Éco-Nature has an excellent annual hatching success rate of up to 78%.
  • Education and awareness: We carry out all kinds of communication activities (kiosk, lectures, training) to make people aware of the many conservation issues and different threats facing species at risk in the Park. These activities reach over 10,000 people every year.
  • Acoustic bat inventories: We conduct bat inventories with ultrasonic detection devices, making it possible to confirm the presence of bats in new sites and to identify the species in the Park. A bat eats the equivalent of three times its body weight in insects every day.
  • Creating wildlife habitats: We create wildlife habitats along the Mille Îles River to compensate for the lack of natural ones (turtle nesting sites, structures where turtles can sun themselves, bat boxes, wood duck nesting boxes, swallow nesting boxes).
  • Identifying and monitoring chimney swift roosting and nesting sites: We monitor over thirty chimneys that could be used for roosting and nesting by chimney swifts every year. There are currently thought to be only a few thousand nesting pairs left in Quebec. However, there may only be enough suitable habitat for 450 nesting pairs.
  • Creating pollinator gardens: Beds with native flowers that attract pollinators and provide habitats for monarchs and other butterflies, honey bees, hummingbirds, rusty-patched bumble bees, etc.). In Quebec, we owe close to 40% of the food we eat to the work of pollinators.
  • Monitoring flower habitats: Every year, we carefully monitor the status of American water-willow and lizard’s tail colonies and identify and mitigate threats to their survival. The Mille Îles River is home to close to 99% of the American water-willow population in Canada, and the largest lizard’s tail colony in Quebec.
  • Controlling invasive exotic species: We work to control invasive exotic species like common reed and Japanese knotweed in natural environments so as to protect biodiversity and restore the ecological value of these degraded habitats. In Canada, damage by and efforts to control invasive exotic species cost more than $7.5 billion annually.
  • Scientific fishing: We conduct experimental catches jointly with the Quebec department of wildlife to confirm the presence of and maintain species at risk in certain parts of the River. Some 59% of the freshwater fish species in Quebec may be found in the Mille Îles River.
  • Inventorying birds at risk: Inventories conducted with the help of volunteer birdwatchers make it possible confirm the presence of rare or at risk bird species in the Park. Some 77% of the bird species in Quebec may be observed along the Mille Îles River.
  • Shoreline restoration: We conduct various projects with the help of volunteers to restore functional riverbanks and degraded habitats. These projects include planting appropriate native plants, stabilizing riverbanks with innovative green engineering techniques and creating multifunctional wildlife habitats. In Quebec, 182 plant species at risk grow near rivers. In the Park, more than half of all plant and animal species are found in habitats near the river.
  • Cleanup drives: Every year, we remove trash that accumulates on the islands and riverbanks, with the help of volunteers. Close to 10 km of shoreline is cleaned every year during drives organized and co-ordinated by Éco-Nature.
  • Water quality monitoring: The quality of the water in the Mille Îles River is checked regularly all summer long. Water samples are taken at some fifty stations and different physicochemical parameters are monitored. Thanks to efforts by Éco-Nature and the municipalities along the river, water quality is improving. The Mille Îles River provides drinking water for 400,000 residents.