The first Migratory Bird Sanctuaries designated under the Migratory Birds Convention Act were the Bird Rocks and Bonaventure Island & Percé Rock sanctuaries, established in 1919, in Quebec. However, the first protected area established for the conservation of migratory birds in Canada was Last Mountain Lake in 1887, in southern Saskatchewan, a refuge for birds that later became a Migratory Bird Sanctuary (in 1921) as well as a National Wildlife Area (in 1994).
At present, there are 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries across Canada, comprising almost 11.5 million hectares of migratory bird habitat that provides safe refuge for migratory birds in the terrestrial and marine environment. The Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada is the agency responsible for Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, although the sanctuaries can be located on federal, provincial or private land.
Migratory Bird Sanctuaries are listed under the Schedule in the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations, which prescribe rules and prohibitions regarding the taking, injuring, destruction or molestation of migratory birds or their nests or eggs in the sanctuaries. Hunting of listed species under the Act is not permitted in any Migratory Bird Sanctuary.