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The designation of a Migratory Bird Sanctuary begins with the evaluation of an area against a set of criteria that will lead to the nomination of a site as a candidate Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Unlike a National Wildlife Area, a Migratory Bird Sanctuary can be established on private, provincial, territorial or federal land. In addition, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries should be reviewed every five years to determine if they continue to meet the criteria described below.
With all Migratory Bird Sanctuaries listed under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations' Schedule, an amendment of the Regulations is required for the establishment of a new sanctuary, any boundary modifications made, or the cancellation of a sanctuary.
An area will be considered suitable for the establishment of a Migratory Bird Sanctuary if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
1. It supports populations that are concentrated, for any part of the year, in order to meet one or several essential needs; as such, the area figures prominently in the requirement for the management of regional populations of migratory birds.
2. The area is vulnerable to area-specific threats. As a significant portion of the populations could be affected, threats may include intensive hunting, exploration, development, etc. Such key habitat sites could include areas for nesting, moulting, wintering or staging.
3. It supports populations that occupy habitats of restricted geographical area and that are vulnerable to human disturbance. Areas that support threatened, endangered or rare species are examples.
4. It regularly supports at least 1% of a population of one species or subspecies. In Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon (north of the Arctic Circle for Yukon), national population totals (when known) will be used as benchmarks. South of the Arctic Circle (including southern Yukon), the provincial or regional population status of featured species will be used.
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