Visit a national wildlife area
National wildlife areas (NWAs) are a growing network of over 50 protected areas, managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service. These areas are designated for wildlife conservation, research and interpretation. Some of these sites are open to the public so that you can experience these incredible spaces, enjoy an array of activities and spend some time connecting with nature.
Alaksen National Wildlife Area
Located south of Vancouver, BC, Alaksen is part of the Fraser River delta. This internationally important migration stop-over and wintering area for many migratory birds along the Pacific coast attracts up to 1.4 million birds from Siberia to South America each year. The area is made up of a mosaic of estuarine habitats, remnant wetlands, riparian forests, agricultural areas and urbanized zones. Conservation area overlaps with George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Activities: You can explore the network of trails, geocache and watch wildlife. Interpretive programming for groups of all ages is offered by the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (next door to the Alaksen NWA office).
Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area
Located 80km south of Kelowna, BC, this area provides significant habitat to species at risk, migratory birds and other wildlife. The charismatic California bighorn sheep can be found here. This area is a dynamic natural system which has been influenced by erosion, flooding, fire, grazing and other natural processes.
Activities: You can follow a short boardwalk through the area and see magnificent views of the landscape from the wildlife viewing tower. Sanctioned geocaching is also available – please stay on the trails.
Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area
Located about 140 km from Regina and Saskatoon, SK, this area contains a wealth of birdlife due to its good habitats and strategic location in the heart of the central flyway of North America. Spectacular populations of migrating ducks, geese, Sandhill Cranes and other birds use the area as they migrate in the fall and spring. In the summer, many birds and other wildlife stay to breed and thrive in the wetlands and native prairie grasslands at Last Mountain Lake.
Activities: There is always plenty to do at Last Mountain Lake NWA. You can get a birds-eye view from one of two new observation towers, hike our various trails, picnic in our new picnic shelter, fish, hunt, canoe/kayak, bird-watch and photograph wildlife. There are some self-led interpretive activities available - check out our bulletin boards on site for more details.
Big Creek National Wildlife Area
Located 67km from Woodstock, ON, this area is home to a wealth of wildlife, including birds, frogs, turtles, amphibians and insects, all of which rely on wetland habitats. The extensive marshes at the mouth of Big Creek are relatively undisturbed compared to other Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Located at the base of the Long Point Peninsula, the marshes are a major staging area for waterfowl. More than 200 bird species use the area during their spring and fall migrations.
Activities: The Big Creek Unit is open from May 15th to September 15th for bird watching, hiking and photography. You can enjoy views of wildlife and their habitat from either of the two viewing towers or two designated walking trails, and participate in geocaching activities. The Hahn Unit is open to the public year round for day use only for bird watching and photography. Soft sand beach swimming and camping are also available down the road at Long Point Provincial Park.
Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area
Located 70km from Belleville, ON, this area has a unique geographic location. A diversity of habitat results in a spectacular number of migratory birds that concentrate at the tip of the peninsula. Large numbers of raptors pass through the area during spring and fall migration. On the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, this is the location with the densest population of birds during migration. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded on the point including songbirds, waterfowl, owls and hawks.
Activities: You can birdwatch, hike, swim at small gravel beaches, geocache or register for interactive programs offered seasonally.
The Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area
Made up of marshland, plains and forests, this area is located along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, 50km from Quebec City, QC. Cap Tourmente protects the American Bulrush marshes that serve as the primary habitat of the Greater Snow Goose during migration. The area’s contrasting landscapes have been shaped by the meeting of the river, large coastal marshes, plains and mountains. With a multitude of habitats, Cap Tourmente is home to a wide diversity of animals and plants. This includes more than 325 bird species, 30 mammal species, 22 types of forest stands and 700 plant species, many of which are at risk.
Activities: You can visit the new exhibition, hike, geocache, observe wildlife, hunt and participate in several interactive programs that are offered seasonally.
(available in French only)
Lac Saint François National Wildlife Area
This area is made up mainly of swamps and marshes consisting of Carex and Typha plant communities, located 120 km from Montreal by the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Lac Saint François also contains wooded wetlands populated by Red Maple stands, and well-drained dry woods of hawthorn, hickory and maple. The biodiversity of the area is among the most remarkable in Quebec. It is home to more than 287 animal species and 547 plant species, many of which are at risk.
Activities: You can explore the new visitor's centre and participate in guided tours on foot or in a rabaska canoe. You can also geocache, participate in seasonal activities or hunt waterfowl in the fall.
Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area
Located at the New Brunswick end of the Confederation Bridge to PEI, this area has an extraordinary variety of ecosystems, including salt marshes, brackish marshes, fresh water wetlands, barrier beach, sand dune and woodlands. Cape Jourimain functions as a refuge for about 170 species of resident and migratory birds. It provides valuable nesting, rearing and migration habitat for several bird species including waterfowl and shorebirds as well as the Osprey, which uses the area's nesting platforms.
Activities: You can explore the network of well-marked and accessible trails, geocache, participate in educational programs and tours offered by the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. This centre also offers limited food services, a craft shop featuring local artisans, and a museum describing the local human and natural history.
Shepody National Wildlife Area
Located on the Bay of Fundy, 46 km from Moncton, NB, this area supports large numbers of migratory shorebirds that come here each summer to eat invertebrates and biofilm on the extensive mudflats found here. This food fuels their direct flight to South America. Wetlands in the area provide important production, staging and migration habitat for waterfowl. The freshwater wetlands provide some of the best nesting habitat in the Atlantic provinces for many marsh birds.
Activities: You can hike, geocache and observe and photograph wildlife, especially in the summer and fall when huge numbers of shorebirds pass through the area. The interpretation centre offers programming during the summer months.
Chignecto National Wildlife Area
This area in Nova Scotia has a wide diversity of habitats and an impressive variety of birds including waterfowl such as the Mallard, Black Duck, Northern Pintail, and Ring-necked Duck. Many mammals can also be seen including the Masked Shrew, Northern Flying Squirrel, Star-nosed Mole, Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare and Woodchuck.
Activities: You can hike, geocache and observe and photograph wildlife.
Looking to include a trip to a national park or heritage site on your travels? Visit Parks Canada.
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