Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area

Danger: This is a former bombing range used by the Department of National Defence, and unexploded bombs remain. Public access is prohibited at Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area.

Public Information Notice

Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area (NWA) is a group of islands located near Trenton, Ontario, in Prince Edward County. The islands cover a total area of 83 hectares (ha).

Description

Wellers Bay NWA consists of Bald Island, Fox Island, Baldhead Island and Baldhead Beach. The islands are part of a large, roughly shaped peninsula on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Aerial view of Wellers Bay NWA
Aerial View of Wellers Bay NWA

Wellers Bay is one of the last undeveloped sand spits on Lake Ontario. The bay has a long history of harboring bird life. Records show that in 1965, 300 common tern nests were found here. This was also the last known nesting location of the endangered piping plover on Lake Ontario. There is still suitable habitat available if they return. In 1969, the Department of National Defence transferred Baldhead Peninsula, Baldhead Beach, Bald Island and Fox Island to the Canadian Wildlife Service to protect the wildlife habitat as an NWA.

Beach at Wellers Bay NWA
Shoreline of Wellers Bay NWA. Photo: Doug Sweiger

The NWA protects rare wildlife habitats including open beach, sand dunes, deciduous forest and wetlands. Wellers Bay NWA and surrounding areas support a wealth of wildlife. Upland areas around Wellers Bay are also important nesting grounds for many bird and reptile species. Songbirds, including:

  • warblers
  • vireos
  • flycatchers
  • thrushes

The sand spit and shallow marshes within Wellers Bay provide vital resting and feeding habitat for migrating waterfowl, including:

  • scaup
  • long-tailed ducks
  • white-winged scoters
  • common loons
  • grebes

Grassland birds, including several species of sparrow, as well as loggerhead shrikes and upland sandpipers, are also common in the surrounding area.
Wellers Bay provides habitat to species at risk such as:

  • least bittern (threatened)
  • piping plover (endangered)
  • monarch butterfly (special concern)
  • eastern hognose snake (threatened)
  • eastern ribbonsnake (special concern)

More information on Wellers Bay NWA can be found in the summary table below.

May 2021 Wellers Bay NWA Public Information Notice


Please be advised that public access by land or water to the Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area (NWA) is prohibited year-round to protect the fragile beach and dune ecosystems, sensitive wildlife habitats, and species at risk from human disturbance, and also to reduce the risk of injury from Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) on the site. If disturbed, UXO can cause injury or death.

Any person found trespassing the area may be charged and fined under the Wildlife Area Regulations of the Canada Wildlife Act.

Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area is located along the western shore of Prince Edward County in Ontario and is part of the Baldhead Peninsula that extends across the mouth of Wellers Bay. The NWA is home to federally listed species at risk and rare, provincially significant dune and panne habitats that are ecologically sensitive.

From 1939 to 1953, the Department of National Defence used the Wellers Bay sand spit as a practice bombing range. To this day, UXO (such as bombs, grenades and flares) have not been entirely cleared from land and water, and continue to pose a public health and safety risk. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate has partnered with Crime Stoppers to combat wildlife trafficking and crimes involving migratory birds, species at risk and federally protected areas. Call Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) to anonymously report wildlife crime or unlawful entry into Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area. You may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000 from Crime Stoppers.

Visit Current National Wildlife Areas for more information on Canada’s National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

Management

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 the Wellers Bay NWA is prohibited to protect:

Research may be authorized by Canada Wildlife Act permit only, although such activities are limited due to the UXO risk that still exists in the area and can be completed only by individuals who have received UXO safety training.

Access to, and all activities within the NWA require a permit. More information on access and permitting for Wellers Bay can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map of Wellers Bay NWA
Map of Wellers Bay NWA
  • Long description 

    Map showing the area surrounding Bald and Bald Head Islands in Ontario. The boundaries of Wellers Bay NWA are indicated. The protected area is located south-est of Gardenville and covers Bald Head Island as well as most of Bald Island, which are located between Lake Ontario and Wellers Bay. The scale on the map is in kms. Permanent waterand roads 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

Summary table
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/Territory Ontario
Latitude/Longitude 44°00778' North / -77°60861' West
Size 83 ha
Reason for creation of protected area
  • Provides nesting habitat for colonial waterbirds
  • Important habitat for wildlife migrating across Lake Ontario
Date created (Gazetted) 1977 – Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Habitat/Species Management Area – (IV)
Additional desigations None
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)
Main habitat type
  • Roughly shaped peninsula on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario
  • Wellers Bay is one of the last undeveloped sand spits on Lake Ontario
Invasive species
  • common reed (phragmites australis)
  • white poplar
Additional links

Birds:

Main threats and challenges
  • Unauthorized public use
  • Development pressure (proposed campgrounds and marinas near NWA)
  • Threat of exotic invasive species spread
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public Access and usage
  • Public access is prohibited

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 - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas program
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON
M3H 5T4

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

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