Management and Activities


Blue loon sign indicating the boundaries of an Environment Canada National Wildlife Area © Canadian Wildlife Service

Management of National Wildlife Areas is undertaken to maintain the ecological integrity of the site for the benefit of migratory birds, species at risk, and other wildlife of national importance. Guided by the Wildlife Area Regulations , National Wildlife Areas are managed according to the conservation objectives as set out in each site management plan.

Although each protected area is managed individually in accordance with the specific characteristics of the site and local area, all National Wildlife Areas share the same overall management strategy, which is “to protect and maintain habitat vital for wildlife and to improve habitat when necessary for wildlife use.”

What is a Management Plan?

Management plans provide the framework in which management decisions are made. They are utilized by Environment Canada staff to guide decision making on the monitoring of wildlife, the maintenance and improvement of wildlife habitat, the enforcement of regulations, the maintenance of facilities, and permitting.

Water sampling in the Nisutlin River, Nisutlin River Delta National Wildlife Area, Yukon © Debbie van de Wetering, Environment Canada

Each National Wildlife Area management plan specifies activities that are allowed, including those that may be undertaken by permit only. Where measures are carried out for the conservation of wildlife, they must be consistent with any law respecting wildlife in the province or territory in which the protected area is situated.

Management plans are elaborated in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and must respect Aboriginal rights and allowable practices specified under land claims agreements.

Activities and Entry

For the benefit of wildlife and its environment, human activities are controlled and their impact minimized in National Wildlife Areas through the implementation of the Wildlife Area Regulations. These regulations set out activities that are prohibited [subsection 3(1)] in National Wildlife Areas.  Although access to National Wildlife Areas is not restricted, the regulations provide authority to the Minister to prohibit entry into National Wildlife Areas by posting a notice at the entrance to the area.

Prohibited Activities and Authorizations

Activities in a National Wildlife Area are authorized where notices have been posted at the entrance to or boundary of the area, or published in local newspapers. Prohibited activities in all National Wildlife Areas include:

  • hunting or fishing
  • possession of firearms or other hunting devices
  • possession of any wildlife or carcass, nest, or eggs
  • damaging, destroying or removing a plant
  • carrying on any agricultural activity
  • allowing any domestic animal to run at large
  • destroying or molesting any wildlife, carcasses, nests or eggs
  • cutting, picking, removing or willfully damaging any vegetation
  • disturbing or removing soil, sand, gravel or other material
  • removing, defacing, damaging or destroying any artifact, natural object, building, fence, poster sign or other structure
  • recreational activities such as camping, swimming, picnicking or having campfires
  • using a boat, aircraft or other vehicle
  • any commercial or industrial activity
  • dumping or depositing any rubbish, waste material, or substance that would degrade or alter the quality of the environment
  • entry into any National Wildlife Area where notice prohibiting such entry has been given 

Under certain conditions, the activities listed above may be authorized through a permit issued by the Minister. Guided by the Environment Canada protected areas permitting policy, authorizations and permits may be issued only if the Minister is of the opinion that the activity:

  • is scientific research relating to wildlife or habitat conservation;
  • will not interfere with the conservation of wildlife; or
  • is consistent with the purpose for which the National Wildlife Area was established or the most recent management plan for the area.

Additional terms and conditions governing the activity may be added to the permit or notice to protect and minimize the impact of the proposed activity on wildlife and their habitat. In addition, depending on the type of activity, other federal or provincial permits may be required.

Contact Information

For more information on National Wildlife Areas please contact the Environment Canada office assigned to your province or territory as per the list below. Please note that all requests must be made in writing through the Inquiry Center, email or to one of the following addresses:

Environment Canada - Atlantic Region*
Canadian Wildlife Service
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville, New Brunswick  
E4L 1G6

Environment Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
1550 avenue d’Estimauville
Québec, Quebec
G1J 5E9

Environment Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
4905 Dufferin Street
Downsview , Ontario
M5H 5T4

Environment Canada - Prairie and Northern Region **
Canadian Wildlife Service
4999 – 98th Avenue
Edmonton , Alberta
T6B 2X3

Environment Canada - Pacific and Yukon Region ***
Canadian Wildlife Service
5421 Robertson Road
Delta, British Columbia
V4K 3N2

* The Atlantic Region includes: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador

** The Prairie and Northern Region includes: Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

*** The Pacific and Yukon Region includes: British Columbia and Yukon.