Nisutlin River Delta National Wildlife Area

Aerial landscape
Photo: Jim Hawkins © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Nisutlin River Delta National Wildlife Area - landscap.

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The Nisutlin River Delta National Wildlife Area (NWA) is southern Yukon's most important fall staging site for migratory waterbirds. This 5,483 hectares (ha) NWA includes the delta at the mouth of the Nisutlin River which is the most extensive inland freshwater delta in the Yukon. Thousands of ducks, geese, and swans feed along the delta each year, along with hundreds of shorebirds. The delta is particularly important for migrating waterbirds in the fall because suitable feeding areas in the region are limited by high water levels. The NWA also provides excellent habitat for moose, and habitat for some species assessed as Threatened or Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

This area has great significance to the Teslin Tlingit people and is an important source of traditional foods. In 1995, the NWA was established under provisions in the Teslin Tlingit Council final land claim agreement. The main objectives for the protected area are to conserve both nationally and locally important wildlife and wildlife habitat, to protect the traditional and current use of the area by Teslin Tlingit, to protect the full diversity of wildlife and their habitats from activities which could reduce the land's capability to support wildlife, and to encourage public awareness and appreciation of the area's natural resources.

More information on Nisutlin River Delta NWA is provided in the summary table below.


The Nisutlin River Delta NWA is the first of its kind in the Yukon and stands as an example of how a shared vision for conservation can be achieved through a First Nation land claim settlement agreement. Managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service in cooperation with the Teslin Renewable Resources Council, this NWA is an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category III defined as a protected area managed mainly for the conservation of specific natural features (the Nisutlin River Delta).

NWAs are protected and managed according to the Wildlife Area Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act. The primary purpose of NWAs is the protection and conservation of wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose, and according to the legislation, Environment and Climate Change Canada can prohibit all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. Nonetheless, Environment and Climate Change Canada has the ability to authorize some activities, whether through public notice or the issuance of permits, as long as these are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.

Access to Nisutlin River Delta NWA is not restricted however there are no roads to the area and no facilities to accommodate public visitation. Some activities, like hunting, fishing, and some recreational activities, are allowed with special restrictions, as per the NWA management plan. Public notices listing the authorized activities within the wildlife area are posted at access points. To protect habitat, the use of ATVs, personal watercrafts, air boats, and hovercrafts are prohibited.

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

Safety Notice

Nisutlin Bay, including the area within the Nisutlin River Delta NWA, is a former bombing range that was used by the Department of National Defence as a training area for aircraft. Military explosives and hazardous debris may remain in Nisutlin Bay and could cause serious injury or death. To obtain more information on unexploded explosive ordnance, please visit the

Map of the Area

  • Nisutlin River Delta NWA
Long description for the Map

Map showing Nisutlin Bay in southern Yukon. The boundaries of Nisutlin River Delta NWA are indicated. The protected area covers the northern portion of Nisutlin Bay and extends northward along a portion of the Nisutlin River, covering land to either side. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intermittant 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. Nisutlin River Delta NWA can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary Table

This table provides summary information for the Nisutlin River Delta NWA.
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Yukon
Latitude/longitude 60°12' North / 133°30' West
Size 5,483 ha
Reason for creation of protected area One of southern Yukon's most important fall staging sites for migrating water birds (Swans, Canada Geese and Ducks).
Date created (Gazetted) 1995 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Category III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species Trumpeter Swan and Tundra Swan
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Endangered: Little Brown Myotis

Threatened: Common Nighthawk, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Barn Swallow

Special concern: Horned Grebe, Peregrine Falcon , Short-eared Owl, Rusty Blackbird, Grizzly bear (Northwestern population), Wolverine (Western population) and Woodland caribou (Northern Mountain population)

Main habitat type An outstanding example of a productive inland river delta
Non-native and invasive species None
Additional links Mammals: Moose
Main threats and challenges No immediate trans-boundary threats to wildlife or habitat. Potential future impacts from land use and recreational activities.
Management agency Environment and Climate Change Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service, Northern Conservation Division, Whitehorse, Yukon
Public access and use The public is allowed to access the NWA; however, there are no roads to the site or any buildings, facilities or infrastructure for visitors. Environment and Climate Change Canada does not offer services for visitor safety in NWAs.

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 Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pacific and Yukon Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit
91780 Alaska Highway
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
Y1A 5X7
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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