The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has designated Lake Kuyucuk (Kuyucuk Gölü) (416 hectares, 40°45’N 043°27’E) as Turkey’s 13th Wetland of International Importance. As summarized by Nadezhda Alexeeva from the RIS, this Wildlife Reserve is one of the most important wetlands of Kars province in northeastern Turkey – the freshwater stream- and spring-fed lake is surrounded by treeless steppe and sparse Phragmites reed patches, and the area may be typical of what much of the Anatolian Steppe grassland-wetland community used to consist of before widespread degradation of its water bodies over the past several hundred years.
Located along the African-Eurasian migration flyways, the lake is a crucial stop-over and breeding site for many bird species, including ten globally threatened. Every fall the site hosts up to 30,000 Ruddy Shelducks. The lake is currently the only source of water for the three surrounding villages. Human activities around the lake include cereal production and livestock grazing. The area is attractive for birdwatching and nature tourism; in 2009 it received the European Destination of Excellence award. Threats are seen from over-grazing (especially in reed beds that provide important habitats for birds), disturbance for birds caused by cattle, and pollution from surrounding villages and livestock farming.