Northwest Territories

In the Northwest Territories, more than 12 million hectares (8.9% of the territories as of 2010) are designated as protected. Environment Canada maintains 5 protected areas in the Northwest Territories, all Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs), comprising more than 2 million hectares of the territories' protected lands and waters. Although currently there are no National Wildlife Areas (NWAs), a number of candidate sites are under evaluation.

Further information on candidate protected areas is available on the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy website.

Map of Environment Canada's Protected Areas in the Northwest Territories

Map showing the number of Environment Canada’s protected areas in the Northwest Territories – 5 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs). Details can be found below. (5) Kendall Island MBS (1) Anderson River Delta MBS (4) Cape Parry MBS (2) Banks Island No. 1 MBS (3) Banks Island No. 2 MBS

List of Protected Areas in the Northwest Territories

The table below contains information about the MBSs shown on the map above. In addition to the name, year of establishment, and size of each protected area, the table indicates how these sites fit into national and international networks of conservation areas. The following entities may be noted:

Ramsar: Wetland of International Importance
IBA: Important Bird Area
WHSRN: Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
MAB: Biosphere reserve of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme

This table provides information on migratory bird sanctuaries such as the name of sanctuary, the year it was established, the size in hectares and notes.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries
No.NameYear established Size in hectares Notes
1Anderson River Delta MBS1961118,417
2Banks Island No. 1 MBS19612,019,997
3Banks Island No. 2 MBS196114,302
4Cape Parry MBS1961227
5Kendall Island MBS196161,241
Total:2,214,184 


Access and Permitting

Although access to NWAs is not restricted, the primary purpose of these areas is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats, and therefore most NWAs are not equipped with facilities to accommodate public visitation. Unless otherwise posted, all recreational activities are prohibited within NWAs.

Although access to most MBSs is not restricted either, the primary intent of these sanctuaries is to protect migratory birds, and therefore hunting, as well as disturbing or molesting migratory birds, their eggs, nests or habitat, is prohibited.

A permit may be obtained from the Minister of Environment authorizing the conduct of certain activities in an NWA or MBS, if the Minister or delegate is of the opinion that the proposed activity:

  • will not interfere with the conservation of wildlife; or
  • is consistent with the purpose for which the protected area was established; and
  • is consistent with the most recent management plan for the protected area.

Contact Information

Additional information on entry, prohibited activities and permits in Environment Canada's protected areas is provided in the Management and Activities web pages of the National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. For more information on Environment Canada's protected areas in the Northwest Territories, please contact the regional Environment Canada office:  

Environment Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas & Stewardship
Western Arctic Unit
P.O. Box 2310
5019 52nd Street,4th Floor
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
X1A 2P7
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca