The Dog Lake area is located in the interlake region of central Manitoba, immediately to the east of the narrows of Lake Manitoba. The town of Ashern is about 12 km to the northeast. Dog Lake contains numerous low islands that are frequented by colonial waterbirds. The shores are rocky and irregular in shape with numerous shallow bays and stands of emergent and submergent wetland vegetation, and rocky mudflats. The maximum depth of the lake is less than 15 feet. The surrounding landscape is rolling with aspen parkland, rangeland, and cropland being present.
Dog Lake is an extremely important nesting area for colonial waterbirds. During surveys completed in 1996, a total of 990 Common Tern nests were recorded along with 1,050 American White Pelican nests. The pelican colony has supported large numbers of birds for at least 30 years; in the late 1960s, 800 nests were recorded, in 1971 1,650 nests were recorded and in 1986 an estimated 9,200 individuals.
Dog Lake is also significant for nesting Great Egrets. A total of 21 nests being recorded in 1996 and at least 35 pairs were considered to be breeding in the IBA by the turn of the century. In addition to the Great Egrets, about 40 pairs of Great Blue Herons also nest in the Dog Lake heronry.
Other species that nested in large numbers include Ring-billed Gulls (5,100 nests in 1996; 1,851 nests in 2012; 2,800 individuals in 2016) and Double-crested Cormorants (82 nests in 1996; 150 loafers in 2012). In total, this site supported at least 8,284 colonial nesting waterbirds in 1996.
The lake is also recognized as an important nesting area for Canada Geese, and during the summer and fall large numbers of waterfowl use the lake for moulting and staging prior to migration. Flocks of 1,000 to 5,000 waterfowl are observed regularly. Migrant shorebirds also use the site, especially during dry years when more mudflats are exposed.
The waters and all of the islands within Dog Lake have been identified as a Wildlife Management Area. The islands have also been identified as a Game Bird Refuge (since 1957) and game bird hunting continues to be prohibited on them.
Local residents are interested in having a stable water system (outlets for high water years and inlets from Lake Manitoba in low water years) in this naturally variable ecosystem. Extensive drain developments build to address this concern led to other problems in wetter years.Catégories ZICO Habitats Usages Menaces Potencielles ou Existantes Status de Protection