IBA Killarney, Dillberry and Leane Lakes
Provost, Alberta
Site Summary
AB032 Latitude
52.578° N
110.061° W
610 - 630 m
50.80 km²
deciduous woods (temperate), scrub/shrub, native grassland, freshwater lake, inland saline lake, freshwater marsh, mud or sand flats (freshwater), arable & cultivated lands, improved pastureland
Land Use:
Agriculture, Fisheries/aquaculture, Rangeland/pastureland, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Dykes/dam/barrages, Deforestation, Drought, Grazing, Intensified management, Interactions with native species/disease, Other decline in habitat quality, Other environmental events, Recreation/tourism, Urban/industrial development
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Shorebird Concentrations, Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: Provincial Park (including Marine), Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (potential)
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Site Description
Killarney, Dillberry and Leane lakes are a cluster of alkali lakes close to the Alberta-Saskatchewan provincial border. The town of Provost, Alberta, is about 26 kilometres to the southwest, and Macklin is a similar distance to the south in Saskatchewan. The area is in the central parkland region of Alberta, and has a diverse set of underlying soils including kame moraines, and sandy plains. The largest lake, Killarney Lake (4.4 km², 10 km of shoreline) is a shallow lake with 10 to 100 metre wide shorelines composed of sand, silt, and gravel. Dillberry Lake at half the size, has 5 kilometres of mostly sandy and vegetated shoreline. The shorelines of the small Leane Lake, include mudflats and gravelly beaches covered with alkali deposits. Some shallow bays of the lakes support lush aquatic vegetation. The area supports 21 species of mammals, including White-tailed Jackrabbit and Long-tailed Weasel. The nationally vulnerable Northern Leopard Frog used to be found here.
The Killarney, Dillberry and Leane complex of lakes are significant for several species of shorebirds. Over seven years between 1991 and 1998, an average of 26 Piping Plovers nested at these lakes. This figure represents over 1 % of the Canadian prairie population of this nationally endangered species. Nest counts suggest that during these years the numbers of plovers may have actually been higher than the number recorded. Since the late 1980s, when the water levels fell, these lakes have become much more important for plovers. Except for one nest documented at Leane Lake, all of the nests are on the shores of Killarney Lake, where a peninsula that protrudes into southwest portion of the lake provides the most favoured habitat. At Leane Lake, the south and west shores provide good habitat.

In the spring, tens of thousands of shorebirds pass through the area. In 1989, 27,542 shorebirds and about 20,000 Red-necked Phalaropes were recorded on Killarney Lake (about 1 % of the North American population of this abundant species). It seems likely that the first figure is primarily composed of phalaropes, but this is not known for certain. Large concentrations of Stilt Sandpipers have been recorded here (5,000, perhaps 5% of the global population).

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Piping Plover 1991 - 2011 SU 14 - 48
Red-necked Phalarope 1989 SP 20,000
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
Leane Lake and most of Dillberry and Killarney lakes are within Dillberry Provincial Park. Additionally, Killarney and Leane Lakes are part of a complex of lakes on the border region identified as a potential Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site because of their importance to an endangered species and migrating shorebirds.

Dillberry Lake is regularly stocked with Rainbow Trout, which together with Yellow Perch support a popular sport fishery. Along with the heavy recreational use of the shorelines of Dilberry Lake, this means that there is a high level of human disturbance on this lake. Also, there is a high level of oil development in the basin, which is partly a concern because ground and surface water are used for oil production activities.

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.
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