Altitude 40 - 80m
The Plaisance Wildlife Reserve is located on the Ottawa River between the towns of Thurso and Papineauville, Québec. The wildlife reserve is composed of a mix of habitats - islands, deciduous forest, fields, bays, marshes and river. Approximately 60% of the reserve consists of aquatic habitats such as open water, emergent vegetation, submerged grassy areas and other wetlands. The remainder of the area is flooded mature deciduous forests and grassy fields. Many tree species typical of southern Québec are found on site, including White Walnut, Rock Elm, Ironwood, Bitternut Hickory, and Blue-Beech.
In spring, this site becomes a major staging area for Canada Geese: thousands of geese rest and feed in the fields and on the river. During peak migration, 30,000-35,000 Canada Geese can be found at the reserve. This represents 5% of the Atlantic Canada Goose population and is a globally significant waterfowl concentration. A small proportion of the migrants belong to the Mississippi Valley population (B. c. interior). It is thought that about 219,000 Canada Geese use the reserve each season. Several other species of waterfowl such as scaup, Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser also occur in large numbers in the spring.
Least Bittern, a nationally threatened species, nests at the Plaisance Wildlife Reserve. In 1996, it was estimated that there were at least 15 pairs nesting here. This is 1.5% of the Canadian population and possibly almost half of the Least Bittern population in Québec. In addition, from 1962 to 1989, one to three pairs of provincially rare Sedge Wrens nested at the reserve.
In 2002 the Plaisance Wildlife Sanctuary was officially declared as the Parc national de Plaisance; to strengthen advocacy efforts to protect natural ecosystems in this area. Conservation of habitats/biodiversity is achieved via a diversity of management activities and visitation/learning opportunities at this site.
Potential or Ongoing Threats