Wild Wise Sooke hopes to build a haul-out for harbour seals in Sooke harbour. (Pixabay)

Wild Wise Sooke hopes to build a haul-out for harbour seals in Sooke harbour. (Pixabay)

‘Wildlife corner’ eyed for Sooke Basin

Purple martin nest boxes and a seal haul-out proposed by Wild Wise Sooke

A wildlife corner, proposed in Sooke harbour near the Prestige Oceanfront Resort, will create a protected area where residents and visitors can view wildlife in its natural habitat.

The initiative is led by a conservation group and will feature purple martins, harbour seals and other wildlife. It includes habitat signage and wildlife-viewing cameras.

The district council learned of the proposal during a presentation by Wild Wise Sooke on Monday.

“We’re doing it for the animals,” Sam Webb, president of Wild Wise Sooke, said of the project.

The wildlife corner is envisioned near the Prestige boardwalk looking out to the harbour, but other areas are under consideration.

Wild Wise Sooke hopes to construct and locate several purple martin nest boxes and a seal haul-out in the area.

The purple martin, the largest swallow in North America, is an at-risk species in B.C. Over the last three years, Wild Wise has located nest boxes for the birds on the waterfront, and this year plans to construct 24 new boxes – 12 to replace older boxes and the rest for new nests.

Ideally, the new nest boxes would best be placed near the Prestige and Jock’s Dock, where a purple martin colony exists.

A baby purple martin swallow getting ready to leave the roost. (Pixabay)

A baby purple martin swallow getting ready to leave the roost. (Pixabay)

“The Prestige boardwalk is so perfect that we can add some nests there, and then the Wild Wise team will monitor them throughout the season,” Webb said.

The second project involves building an artificial haul-out for seal pups off-shore. Webb expects completion of the haul-out this spring. The haul-out would allow a mother seal to leave her pups while she forages for food.

READ MORE: WATCH: North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre releases bald eagle into the wild

Many seal pups now haul-out on docks, beaches and rocks, but that often leads to negative interactions between wildlife and people, Webb said.

“We want to minimize risk to any wildlife. We certainly don’t want people picking up seal pups,” she said.

The wildlife corner’s purpose is to protect the animals, but residents and visitors are encouraged to view the wildlife. Wild Wise Sooke is also planning to install cameras in the area for security and at-home wildlife viewing.

“The wildlife corner is preferable in one area of Sooke, so people can learn about wildlife and appreciate it,” Webb said.

READ MORE: Discover Sooke

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