Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area

Last Mountain Lake NWAPhoto: John Dunlop © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area.

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For more than a century, Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area (NWA) has been officially recognized as a special place for wildlife. This area was first protected in 1887, when 1025 hectares (ha) of land at the north end of Last Mountain Lake were set aside as breeding grounds for wild fowl, becoming the first federal bird sanctuary in North America. Two main factors contribute to attracting such a wealth of birdlife to the area: its good habitats, as one of the most productive lakes in southern Saskatchewan; and its strategic location in the heart of the central flyway of North America. Spectacular populations of migrating ducks, geese, Sandhill Cranes and other birds use the area as they travel across the Great Plains, between their northern breeding grounds and southern wintering grounds.

Over 280 species of birds have been recorded at Last Mountain Lake NWA during migration. Up to 50,000 cranes, 450,000 geese and several hundred thousand ducks can be observed when migration peaks. Although less conspicuous, scores of songbirds, shorebirds and birds of prey spend from a few days to a few weeks every year in the area. Birds travelling through at least 25 different countries, from arctic Canada to Argentina, use Last Mountain Lake's rich habitats. The NWA is also an important breeding ground for at least 100 species of birds, many of which are unique to the prairie region. More than 9 species of shorebirds, 43 species of songbirds and 13 species of ducks nest within the limits of the NWA. Some of the most spectacular breeders include the Western Grebe, the American White Pelican, the American Avocet and the Wilson's Phalarope.

Besides its values as a migratory stopover and a breeding area, Last Mountain Lake NWA provides appropriate habitat for 9 of Canada's 36 species of vulnerable, threatened and endangered birds, as classified by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 1993. They include the Peregrine Falcon, the Piping Plover, the Whooping Crane, the Burrowing Owl, the Ferruginous Hawk, the Loggerhead Shrike, the Baird's Sparrow, the Caspian Tern, and the Cooper's Hawk. Colonial nesters such as Pelicans, Cormorants, Gulls, Terns and Grebes are also particularly dependent upon the statutory protection afforded by the NWA. These birds nest in mixed colonies on several islands on the lake or on floating platforms in the marsh and are very sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season.

More information on Last Mountain Lake NWA is provided in the summary table below.

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Planning Your Visit

Whether you wish to take a driving tour with interpretive stops, explore some walking trails or get a birds-eye view of extensive wetlands and prairies from an observation tower, Last Mountain Lake NWA has something for everyone. For the more adventurous, check out the opportunities for fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bird-watching, wildlife photography, and nature study in this beautiful NWA. Don't forget to take in the sight of the tens of thousands of migrating geese, ducks, swans and cranes that stop by to rest and replenish on their long journeys.

Public facilities: self-service information kiosk, washrooms (located near information kiosk), self-interpretive trails (with floating dock and bird blind), parking lot and observation tower.

For more information on what is permitted in NWAs, consult the NWA Management and Activities page.


The administration building and visitor centre are both located at the main access point south of Highway 15.

From Regina and Saskatoon:
Take Highway 2 to Highway 15. Go east on Highway 15 for 14.4 kilometers where you'll see a headquarters sign for the NWA. Turn south (right) and travel 3.2 km to the headquarters office.

GPS: 51.416929, -105.239036.

More information on access and permitting for Last Mountain Lake NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

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Map of the Area

  • Last Mountain Lake NWA
Long description for the Map

Map showing the region around Last Mountain Lake in southern Saskatchewan. The boundaries of the Last Mountain Lake NWA and of the Last Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary are indicated. The NWA covers almost all land around the northern side of the lake and the Migratory Bird Sanctuary covers the northern portion of the lake. The two protected areas are superimposed in a few small townships. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intermittent water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Last Mountain Lake NWA can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

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Summary Table

This table provides summary information for Last Mountain Lake NWA
Protected Area designationNWA
Latitude/longitude51°22' North / 105°12' West
Size10,905 ha
Reason for Creation of protected areaTo maintain and enhance its wildness; An important breeding ground and migratory stopover for several species of birds, many of which are unique to the prairie region.
Date created (Gazetted)1994 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management CategoryIV-Habitat / Species Management Area
Additional designations
Main habitat typeWetland (21 %), Grassland (57 %), Cultivated land (4 %), Hay land (18 %)
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)Sprague's Pipit, Piping Plover, Whooping Crane, Burrowing Owl, Ferruginous Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Baird's Sparrow, Caspian Tern, and Cooper's Hawk.
Invasive speciesSmooth Brome Grass, Kentucky Blue Grass, Quack Grass, Toadflax, Nodding Thistle, Sweet Clover.
Additional linksBirds: Western Grebe, American White Pelican, American Avocet, and Wilson's Phalarope.
Main threats and challengesAlien invasive plant species, gravel extraction, human influence and habitat fragmentation.
Management AgencyEnvironment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usageFishing, hunting, boating, bird-watching, wildlife photography, nature study, and public notices only.

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity

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Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit
115 Perimeter Rd
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 0X4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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