Wildlife group cautioning boaters and jet skiers on West River

Central Queens Wildlife Federation is sounding a note of caution for boaters, particularly for jet skiers and motor boats, asking them to consider the possible damage to fish breeding habitat.

Central Queens Wildlife Federation says boaters upstream can disturb fish, risk damage to boats

The Central Queens Wildlife Federation is concerned about a 1-kilometre stretch of the West River, where the group is doing rehabilitation work. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

In the summer months, Bonshaw Hills Provincial Park sees lots of activity —with people walking the trails along the West River and boaters out on the water.

But Central Queens Wildlife Federation is sounding a note of caution for boaters, particularly for jet skiers and motor boats, asking them to consider the possible damage to fish breeding habitat.

"If there's boats and jet skis coming up through here, they're kind of spooking them and harassing them. And it's not in any sort beneficial to the fish," said project manager Jordan Condon. 

Rehabilitation work

Condon said he has no concerns about people who use their boats and jet skis in the deep water and open spaces. But federation staff have seen personal watercraft and larger motor boats well up stream of the Trans-Canada bridge, he said.

They're concerned about a one-kilometre stretch where they've been doing rehabilitation work.

Jordan Condon says when boats and jet skis come far upstream, it can cause stress to fish. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"This section of river, the fish kind of hold out here for a while as they're making their way from salt water to fresh water. They've kind of got to acclimatize and adjust to the fresh water. So they'll hold out here for a couple weeks," Condon said. 

He said boats moving quickly in the area can cause the fish to be stressed. 

Boats could be damaged

There's also the risk of damage to the boats themselves during low tide, he said. The federation has installed underwater gabions — wire cages containing rocks — in several places along the stream.

Condon says boats could easily hit the gabions, as well as rocks and logs. 

Condon says he has no issues with boaters and jet skiers who stay in the open water. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Transport Canada has the ultimate say over the use and protection of waterways, and works with provinces, municipalities and others to take action if needed.

Condon said the Central Queens Wildlife Federation doesn't want formal restrictions. The group is simply asking boaters to use caution.

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With files from Brian Higgins