IBA Scott Island Group
Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC006 Latitude
50.823° N
128.825° W
0 - 312 m
1,186.72 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), open sea, coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine)
Land Use:
Not Utilized (Natural Area)
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Introduced species, Other increased mortality, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Colonial Waterbirds/Seabird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species, Congregatory Species
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written, Provincial Park (including Marine)
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Site Description
The Scott Islands are a group of five islands extending in a line westward from 10 to 46 km offshore of Cape Scott at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island. The inner two islands, Cox and Lanz, are large forested islands, whereas the outer two, Triangle and Sartine, are completely treeless. Beresford, the smallest island, lies in the middle of the chain and exhibits transitional features.

The Scott Islands support the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in the eastern North Pacific south of Alaska, and are the most important breeding colonies for seabirds in British Columbia. Twelve species of seabirds breed in this group of islands, with virtually all the nesting occurring on Triangle, Sartine and Beresford Islands. Together these Islands support over two million breeding birds.

Three of the seabird species nesting on the islands occur in globally significant numbers (i.e., greater than 1% of their population). These species are: Cassin's Auklet (as much as 55% of the global, and 73% of the national population); Rhinoceros Auklet (as much as 7% of the global, 9% of the continental, and 12% of the national population); and Tufted Puffin (2% of the global, and almost 90% of the Canadian population). Other species that are present in at least nationally significant numbers (i.e., greater than 1% of the national population) include: Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel (1.5% of the Canadian population), Leach's Storm-Petrel (2.3% of the western Canada population), Pelagic Cormorant (just over 1% of the North American, and 17.5% of the Canadian population), Brandt's Cormorant (40% of the Canadian population) Black Oystercatcher (almost 3% of the Canadian population), Glaucous-winged Gull (about 4% of the national population), Common Murre (as much as 95% of the western Canada population) and Pigeon Guillemot (6% of the national population).

Other species of seabirds nesting on the islands include Thick-billed Murre (the only known site in Canada where the Pacific population nests) and Horned Puffin (less than 25 pairs in British Columbia). The marine areas surrounding the islands are important feeding areas for the nesting seabirds as well as other marine birds such as Sooty Shearwaters. Large numbers of migrating and wintering seaducks such as White-winged Scoters also frequent the area, particularly in the vicinity of Cox and Lanz islands.

Triangle Island supports several pairs of Peregrine Falcons (ssp. pealei) a species considered nationally vulnerable. Peregrine Falcons are also recorded at each of the other four islands in the group and Bald Eagles nest throughout.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black-footed Albatross 2002 FA 20
Black-footed Albatross 2015 SP 250
Cassin's Auklet 1989 SU 1,980,000
Pelagic Cormorant 1987 - 1989 SU 864 - 1,214
Pigeon Guillemot 1989 SU 619
Pink-footed Shearwater 2002 FA 50 - 75
Pink-footed Shearwater 2016 - 2017 SP 27 - 50
Rhinoceros Auklet 1989 SU 83,400
Tufted Puffin 1989 SU 69,800
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
The inner two islands of the Scott Islands group comprise Lanz and Cox Islands Provincial Park and are accessible only by boat. The outer three islands are BC Ecological Reserves: Anne Vallee (Triangle Island) ER #13, Sartine Island ER #11, and Beresford Island ER #12. Public access to the Ecological Reserves is prohibited. The Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area (NWA), established in June 2018, protects the surrounding 11,546 square kilometers of marine environment, encompassing the IBA and beyond.

Environment and Climate Change Canada leads Scott Islands marine NWA planning and management activities. Other federal departments with responsibilities in the marine environment also help in the management of the marine NWA: Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Canadian Coast Guard; Transport Canada; and Natural Resources Canada. The marine NWA will also be collaboratively managed with the Province of British Columbia, Tlatlasikwala First Nation, Quatsino First Nation, stakeholders including industry and environmental organizations.

The primary threats to the area are potential oil spills, and possible disturbance from boaters. During the late 1930s, mink and raccoon were introduced to Lanz and Cox islands. It is thought that their subsequent population explosion caused the extirpation of the Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets colonies that were probably there. The spread of predators (raccoons and mink) to the outer islands has not occurred, and is not thought likely to pose a threat, because of the distance between them and the inner two islands.

Beginning in the mid 1970s, Triangle Island has been a site for seabird ecological studies sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service. It is now the site of a research station sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service/Simon Fraser University NSERC Wildlife Ecology Chair.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Birds Canada