The Baie des Loups site is located east of the La Romaine River, near the coast of the Strait of Belle Isle, in the northeastern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Close by is the hamlet of Baie-des-Loups. The boundary of the study area is the same as those of the Baie des Loups Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Included are thirteen islands and the marine waters within 1.5 km of the archipelago. Tundra and taiga (with stunted conifers) are the two primary habitats, covering about 85% of the site’s total land area. Secondary habitats include rock outcrops and freshwater ponds.
In the breeding season, Baie des Loups holds a great variety of seabird colonies. In the last survey of 1993, fewer than 16,629 breeding adults of all species recorded, were using this site. In 1965, the population reached a peak of 27,000 individuals. One species, the Atlantic Puffin, nests in globally significant numbers. The average number of pairs for the last three surveys (1982, 1988 and 1993) is 5,752. This is about 1.5% of the North American population, which is found solely on the Atlantic coast. The puffin population has been fairly stable, with the average number of pairs for the last nine surveys (1950 – 1993) standing at 4,927. The maximum number ever recorded since surveys began in 1884, was in the most recent 1993 survey, when 6,917 pairs were detected. For Atlantic Puffin, this site is the second most important among the Gulf of St. Lawrence sites, after the Baie de Brador area. Razorbills used to breed at the site in globally significant numbers (11,000 birds in 1965), making it one of the largest Razorbill colonies at the time in Canada. Since then, their numbers have declined to 2,294 in 1972 and then to a mere 241 in 1993. The Common Murre has also greatly declined since 1972, from a maximum of 2,180 individuals in 1950 to a few birds in 1993. Today, the Common Eider is the second most common species, with a population that has been stable, regularly varying between about 400 and 800 pairs (1930s to 1990s). The Black Guillemot has always been present in moderate numbers, and a few hundred breeding pairs of Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull are also found here.
Both Great and Double-crested cormorants have bred on the site, although not since 1962 and 1977, respectively. Leach’s Storm-Petrel was first recorded in 1972 and, in the last two surveys, a little over a hundred pairs were counted. Red-throated Loons, terns and Ring-billed Gulls also use the site but in small numbers. A group of 87 Red-throated Loons was recorded in the summer of 1981, which is noteworthy considering that they are usually present in much lower numbers.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Excessive or illegal hunting, and overall disturbance of the breeding birds, are the primary threats to the Baie des Loups site, and may be part of the reason for the precipitous decline in Razorbill numbers. Oil spills are also a concern, especially considering the volume of tanker traffic on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.