Wildlife Area Regulations: frequently asked questions

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below are meant to provide Canadians and Canadian businesses with basic information about the Wildlife Area Regulations.

What is the purpose of these regulations

The purpose of the Wildlife Area Regulations is to restrict activities in National Wildlife Areas in order to protect habitat for migratory birds, species at risk and other wildlife.

What are the key elements of these regulations

The Wildlife Area Regulations designate and establish National Wildlife Areas, which are identified in Schedule I of the regulations. The amended regulations include a new Schedule I.1, which lists the activities that are authorized in certain National Wildlife Areas without a permit.

The prohibited activities listed in the regulations are:

  • introducing any living organism whose presence is likely to result in harm to any wildlife or the degradation of any wildlife residence or wildlife habitat
  • hunting, fishing or trapping
  • having in their possession any equipment that could be used for hunting, fishing or trapping
  • having in their possession, while fishing, any lead sinkers or lead jigs
  • having in their possession any wildlife, carcass, nest, egg or a part of any of those things
  • carrying on any agricultural activity, grazing livestock or harvesting any natural or cultivated crop
  • bringing a domestic animal with hooves into the wildlife area
  • allowing any domestic animal to run at large or keeping any domestic animal on a leash that is longer than three metres
  • carrying on any recreational activities, including swimming, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and skating
  • participating in a group meal or group event involving 15 or more people
  • lighting or maintaining a fire
  • operating a conveyance – including a conveyance without a driver on board – other than an aircraft
  • conducting a take-off or landing of an aircraft, including a remotely piloted aircraft
  • operating on land or in the water a remotely controlled self-propelled device or setting in motion on land or in the water an autonomous self-propelled device
  • removing, damaging or destroying any poster or sign or any fence, building or other structure
  • selling, or offering for sale, any goods or services
  • carrying on any industrial activity
  • disturbing or removing any soil, sand, gravel or other material
  • dumping or depositing any waste material or any substance that would degrade or alter the quality of the environment
  • removing, damaging or destroying any artifact or natural object
  • carrying out any other activity that is likely to disturb, damage, destroy or remove from the wildlife area – whether alive or dead – wildlife residence or wildlife habitat

How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses

Given that there are generally no fees or restrictions associated with entry into a National Wildlife Area (except for the Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area in Quebec), this regulation may be beneficial to eco-tourism related businesses. In fact, some National Wildlife Areas are popular tourist destinations as they provide opportunities for interpretation and recreational activities in natural areas that are abundant in wildlife.

As National Wildlife Areas are found throughout Canada, impacts on specific businesses depend on their specific location. Businesses that wish to undertake a prohibited activity in a National Wildlife Area must apply for a permit by contacting the appropriate regional office of Environment and Climate Change Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service. The Minister thoroughly assesses all permit applications, on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration criteria outlined in the Wildlife Area Regulations before making a decision as to whether to issue a permit or not.  A permit may be issued only if the Minister is of the opinion that the proposed activities are consistent with the purpose for which the National Wildlife Area was established as reflected in the Canada Wildlife Act and the management plan.

What is the timeline for implementation

The Wildlife Area Regulations, made under the authority of the Canada Wildlife Act, came into force in 1977 and were last amended in December 2020.

Where can I get more information

More information on the protected area permits as well as the Environment and Climate Change Canada protected area network can be found online. Please note that a proposed permitting guidance document is forthcoming. When published, it will be available for public review and comment until March 31st, 2021.

For more information on the Wildlife Area Regulations, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service at the following toll free number at 1-855-869-8670 or via the appropriate regional office. Contacts are listed below.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service Regional Offices

Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville, NB
E4L 1G6

Telephone: 506-364-5068
Fax: 506-364-5062
Email: ec.scfatlpermis-cwsatlpermits.ec@canada.ca

Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
801-1550 d'Estimauville Avenue
Québec, QC
G1J 0C3

Telephone: 418-649-6129
Fax: 418-648-4871
Email: ec.permisscfquebec-cwsquebecpermit.ec@canada.ca

Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
335 River Road
Ottawa, ON
K1V 1C7

Telephone: 613-990-8355
Fax: 613-990-8400
Email: ec.faune.ontario-wildlife.ontario.ec@canada.ca

Prairie Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Box 280
Simpson SK
S0G 4M0

Telephone: 306-836-2022
Email: ec.cwsnwapermitprairie-prairiernfpermisscf.ec@canada.ca

Pacific Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
5421 Robertson Road
Delta, BC
V4K 3N2

Telephone: 604-350-1950
Fax: 604-946-7022
Email: ec.scfpacpermitscwspacpermits.ec@canada.ca

Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
P.O. Box 1870
Suite 301-933 Mivvik St.
Iqaluit NU 
X0A 0H0

Telephone: 867-975-4636
Fax: 867-975-4645
Email: ec.cwspermitnorth-nordpermisscf.ec@canada.ca

This document is intended to provide contextual information on the Wildlife Area Regulations. It does not replace the Canada Wildlife Act or the Wildlife Area Regulations. If there is a discrepancy between this document and the Canada Wildlife Act or the Wildlife Area Regulations, the Act and Regulations prevail.

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