Prairie National Wildlife Area

Spanning five eco-regions within the Prairies and Boreal Plains ecozones of Saskatchewan, the Prairie National Wildlife Area (NWA) is important for species at risk and other wildlife.


Prairie NWA includes 28 separate units varying from 64 to 384 hectares (ha) in size. The total area of 2,933 ha is a mixture of:

  • trembling aspen forests
  • sand dune and mixed grass prairies
  • fresh to saline wetlands
  • various cultivated agricultural lands

Burrowing owl. Photo: Geoff Holroyd

Many migratory birds and species at risk occur in the land parcels including:

  • Sprague's pipit
  • loggerhead shrike
  • burrowing owl
  • slender mouse-ear cress

Baby red fox

Also commonly observed are:

  • deer
  • pronghorn
  • grouse
  • other wildlife

This NWA was created in 1978 through a land transfer agreement between departments in the Government of Canada. Initially, the plan was to unite these units by acquiring land next to them with high-quality migratory bird habitat and to dispose units with little value for wildlife. In the 1980s, Grasslands National Park was created. Afterward, the plan for Prairie NWA changed to maintain or improve the habitat on existing units. With the discovery of a number of species at risk and other rare species on some units, the conservation value has increased.

More information is provided on Prairie 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 protection 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 Prairie NWA is not restricted and 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. The management of Prairie NWA focuses on maintenance of high-quality natural habitats, and enhancement of other habitats through large-scale active and passive management. Several units have implemented:

  • livestock grazing
  • haying
  • prescribed burning
  • weed control

Other units are protected from disturbance through fencing and signage. Some revegetation has occurred on lands that were formerly cultivated, as well as lands where petroleum wells and pipelines have been installed.

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

Map of the area

Long description for the map

Map showing the area around Saskatoon, Lake Diefenbaker, Last Mountain Lake and Regina in the southern half of Saskatchewan. The location of the 27 Units of Prairie NWA are indicated. Unit 1 is the eastern-most unit and is east of Saskatoon. Units 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 are located north of Saskatoon. Units 8, 9, 12, 13 are south-west of Saskatoon and north of Lake Diefenbaker. Unit 5 is located in the center of Highway 1, Highway 11 and Lake Diefenbaker. The Units 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 26 are located west of Lake Diefenbaker near Highway 1. Unit 22 is south-west of Saskatoon and north-west of Lake Diefenbaker Units 10, 11, 14 and 15 are located to the south Highway 1 and to the south-west of Regina. Unit number 27 is located south of Highway 1 and south-east of Regina. The scale on the map is in hundreds of kilometers. Permanent water, provincial boundaries, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

Summary table

This table provides summary information for the Prairie NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 28 Units, each with distinctive co-ordinates
Size 2,933 ha
Reason for Creation of protected area To re-establish and improve potential wildlife habitat in a region of Saskatchewan that is being progressively degraded of wildlife habitat.
Date created (Gazetted) 1977 - 1979 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Habitat / Species Management Area (IV)
Additional designations None
Main habitat type
  • Grassland
  • Wetland
  • Woodland
  • Cultivated land
  • Stabilized dune sand
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)
Invasive species
  • smooth brome
  • kentucky bluegrass
  • crested wheatgrass
  • downy brome
  • sweet clover
  • quack grass
  • alfalfa
  • Canada thistle
Additional species



Main threats and challenges
  • Alien invasive species altering the structure of upland cover that may reduce the abundance of some wildlife.
  • Continued cultivation and crop production on some units.
  • Petroleum well and facility development.
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage By permits only mainly for controlled grazing and haying, limited hunting and trapping.

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 - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 0X4

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

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