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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
The sand spit and shallow marshes within Wellers Bay provide vital resting and feeding habitat for migrating waterfowl, including:
- long-tailed ducks
- white-winged scoters
- common loons
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 2022 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. This is to protect the fragile beach and dune ecosystems, sensitive wildlife habitats, and species at risk from human disturbance. There are also Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) on the site. If disturbed, UXO can cause injury or death to humans and wildlife.
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 coastal meadow marsh habitats, which are ecologically sensitive to any form of human disturbance.
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.
Only certain NWAs are open to the public, visit Current National Wildlife Areas for more information on Canada’s National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.
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:
- fragile beach and dune ecosystems
- sensitive wildlife habitats
- 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
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.
|Protected Area designation||NWA|
|Latitude/Longitude||44°00778' North / -77°60861' West|
|Reason for creation of protected area||
|Date created (Gazetted)||1977 – Legal description|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||Habitat/Species Management Area – (IV)|
|Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)|
|Main habitat type||
|Main threats and challenges||
|Management Agency||Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)|
|Public Access and usage||
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.
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Ontario Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas program
4905 Dufferin Street
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
- Wellers Bay NWA management plan
- Wellers Bay NWA pamphlet
- Wellers Bays 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)
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