Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area

Aerial view of Wellers Bay NWA
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area (NWA) - aerial view

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Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area (NWA) is a group of lands located near Trenton, Ontario, in Prince Edward County. It covers a total area of 83 hectares (ha) and consists of Bald Island, Fox Island, Baldhead Island and Baldhead Beach. The islands are part of a large, roughly shaped peninsula on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario.

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 and there is still suitable habitat available if they return to the southern Great Lakes region. 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.

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 and Thrushes, are prevalent in the area. 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, and 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) and Eastern Ribbonsnake (special concern). The NWA protects rare wildlife habitats including open beach, sand dunes, deciduous forest and wetlands.

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


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 the Wellers Bay NWA is prohibited to protect fragile beach and dune ecosystems, and sensitive wildlife habitats, and also to reduce the risk of exposure to and injury from Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) on the site (see the Department of National Defence UXO and Legacy Sites Program Web site). 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

  • Wellers Bay NWA boundaries.
Long description for the Map

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 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 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. Wellers Bay 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 Wellers Bay NWA
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 IV - Habitat/Species Management Area
Additional designations None
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Least Bittern, Piping Plover, Monarch Butterfly, Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, Eastern Ribbonsnake.
Main habitat type Roughly-shaped peninsula on the north-eastern 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: Long-tailed Duck, White-winged Scoter, Common Loon, Grebe, Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Upland Sandpiper.
Main threats and challenges Unauthorized public use, development pressure (proposed campgrounds and marinas near NWA), andhreat 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 Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
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