Boot Island National Wildlife Area

Boot Island National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located in the Minas Basin near the mouth of the Gaspereau River, Nova Scotia.


Boot Island NWA lies at the head of the Bay of Fundy. Open water, saltmarshes and mudflats surround the NWA. It is an important staging and migration area for waterfowl and shorebirds. Prior to its establishment as a NWA in 1979, the habitat on the island was at risk because of proposed summer home and cottage development. Boot Island NWA, as part of the Southern Bight-Minas Basin, is also designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance for the protection of shorebirds and is a site for research.

Boot Island NWA

The NWA hosts breeding colonies of:

  • herring gull
  • great black-backed gull
  • great blue heron
  • double-crested cormorant
Great black-backed gull colony
Great black-backed gull colony. Photo: Colin Mackinnon

The habitat and wildlife found on Boot Island is typical for islands in this part of the Maritimes. No fewer than 170 plant species grow there and 30 species of birds have been observed on or near the island.

Boot Island NWA currently totals 107 ha split among:

  • 91 ha of saltmarsh
  • 2 ha of forest/woodland habitat
  • approximately 14 ha of shrub and grassland habitat

Boot Island was created through erosion of the saltmarsh caused by tidal intrusion. Along the north shore of the island (adjacent to the forest), this erosion is especially prevalent and is continuing resulting in the loss of over one meter of shoreline per year.

The upland section, on the Basin side of Boot Island, is about six meters above mean high tide and was formerly agricultural land. It is vegetated with a stand of White Spruce and shrub - grass cover. The saltmarsh consists of fertile alluvial deposits, left by the receding silt - laden tidal waters of the Minas Basin. Typical saltmarsh plant associations occur throughout the marsh community with Salt - Water Cord Grass being the dominant species. Twice daily, high tides fill the channel area at the mouth of the Gaspereau River, and numerous tidal streams intersperse the marsh.

More information on Boot Island NWA is provided in the summary table below.


Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. However, some activities may be authorized through public notice or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.

Access to Boot Island NWA is not restricted. Activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan. Public notices listing the authorized activities within the wildlife area are posted at access points and include:

  • wildlife observation
  • hiking
  • berry picking
  • hunting and trapping are allowed, but subject to Provincial and/or Federal regulations as well as any specified conditions

More information on access and permitting for Boot Island NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map of Boot Island NWA
  • Long description

    Map showing the area off of the coast of Long Island and Oak Island in the Western Channel and Minas Basin. The boundaries of Boot Island National Wildelife Area are indicated. The protected area covers most of Boot Island and extends overwater towards the shore of Long Island. It is located to the north of Gaspereau River, east of Long Island and west of Avon River. The scale on the map is in kms. Permanent water, intertidal water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Summary table

Protected Area designation NWA
Province/Territory Nova Scotia
Latitude/Longitude 45°08' North / 64°16' West
Size 107 ha
Reason for creation of protected area The protection of coastal habitat, an important staging area for waterfowl as well as for shorebirds
Date created (Gazetted) 1979 – Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Habitat / Species Management Area (IV)
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species
Main habitat type
  • Wetland (85%)
  • Uplands (15%)
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Peregrine falcon is a spring and fall transient
Invasive species None recorded
Additional links Birds: great black-backed gull

Mammals: coyote

Main threats and challenges Coastal erosion – sea level rise
Management agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage
  • wildlife observation
  • hiking
  • berry picking permitted by public notices
  • hunting and trapping allow but subject to Provincial and/or Federal regulations and conditions

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville, New Brunswick
E4L 4N1

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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