Meanook National Wildlife Area

Meanook National Wildlife Area (NWA) is situated within the Athabasca River basin 17 kilometers (km) southwest of the Town of Athabasca, in Alberta, in the transition zone between the boreal forest and aspen parkland.


The Meanook NWA is a mosaic of natural forest and cultivated land. Ten buildings and a number of temporary facilities were present on the site prior to 2013, used as a biological research station. The buildings have since been demolished and the developed area, along with a number of previously cultivated fields are now in various stages of natural recovery. This NWA protects an area of representative native mixed forest habitat in an agricultural area. It provides habitat for typical boreal songbird species such as:

  • black-capped chickadee
  • red-breasted nuthatch
  • hermit thrush
  • red-winged blackbird
  • American redstart

Other birds, small and large mammals frequently found within the NWA are:

  • Various hawks
  • great horned owl
  • grouse
  • red squirrel
  • snowshoe hare
  • coyote
  • deer
  • black bear
  • moose
Great grey owl
Great grey owl. Photo: Todd Kemper

The NWA is crossed by a perennial intermittent stream from north to south. The stream terminates in a large man-made dugout originally constructed as a water source for fire fighting. Several very small natural wetlands are also located within the boundaries of the NWA. Much of the uplands are covered by natural forest in various successional stages, typically dominated by:

  • aspen
  • balsam poplar
  • white birch with various understory composition

The remainder of the upland area is covered by agricultural and/or forage crops or previously cultivated land that has been allowed to revert to natural cover. The area surrounding the NWA has been extensively altered and converted to forage and cereal crop production during the last century.

Black bear
Black bear

Find more information on Meanook NWA 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 wildlife 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 other activities are prohibited in all NWAs. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA Management and Activities section.

Meanook NWA is passively managed to maintain the area's natural habitats along with the wildlife they support. The University of Alberta operated the Meanook Biological Research Station and oversaw the upkeep and management of the building and lands until 2013. The research station buildings and related infrastructure have since been demolished and the site is in a state of natural recovery.

For Meanook NWA, some activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan, currently in development. Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points. Harvesting of fish, wildlife or plant resources is not permitted except under permit.

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

Map of the area

Map of Meanook NWA
  • Long description

    This map showing central Alberta. The boundaries of Meanook National Wildlife Area are indicated. The NWA is situated to the west of Highway 2, to the southwest of Long Lake and to the east of Prince Creek. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intermittent water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. An inset situates the NWA’s location in Canada.

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

Summary table

Summary table for Meanook NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation National Wildlife Area
Province/Territory Alberta
Latitude/Longitude 54°35' North / 113°21' West
Size 214 ha
Reason for creation of protected area To protect and conserve representative native mixed-wood forest and associated wildlife
Date created (Gazetted) 1979 – Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Habitat/species management area – (IV)
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Primarily forest and cultivated land. Some limited riparian features and shrub/wetland habitats.
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None recorded
Invasive species
  • European starling
  • common tansy
  • perennial sow-thistle
  • Canada thistle
  • oxeye daisy
  • smooth brome
Additional links Birds:


Main threats and challenges
  • Invasive and non-native species
  • Limited size and adjacent land use may prejudice natural processes related to wildlife
Management agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Public access is prohibited except by permit.

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

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
Eastgate Offices
9250 - 49th Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T6B 1K5
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

Related link

Meanook NWA on Google maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name)

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: