Canada Wildlife Act

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The management of wildlife is spear-headed by the provincial government under its Wildlife Act. However, the federal government has claimed some role in protecting wildlife, and particularly endangered species, through the Canada Wildlife Act, passed in 1973, and, more recently, the Species At Risk Act.

The Canadian Wildlife Service, a branch of Environment Canada, administers the Canada Wildlife Act. It sets out general rules for how the federal government can work with provincial government, municipal governments and other organizations to research and conserve wildlife. In addition, it gives the Canadian Wildlife Service separate powers to create and manage areas for the protection of wildlife.

Management of Federal Lands

The federal government can turn land that it owns over to the Canadian Wildlife Service to manage it for wildlife. The Canadian Wildlife Service also has the power to buy or lease land to be managed for wildlife, or to receive land for this purpose as a tax-deductible gift or donation (see Environment Canada’s EcoGift Website for more information on how this might occur).

Under a regulation created under the Act (the National Wildlife Area Regulation), these areas can be designated as National Wildlife Areas. The federal government will consider the national and international significance of a site in deciding whether to designate it as a National Wildlife Area.

A wide range of activities, from hunting to disturbing wildlife habitat, are prohibited in a National Wildlife Area without a permit (which would need to be issued by the Canadian Wildlife Service). The Canadian Wildlife Service Website provides a map of the existing National Wildlife Areas in B.C.

Areas managed for migratory birds can be created either under the Canada Wildlife Act or the Migratory Birds Convention Act (in which case they are called Migratory Bird Sanctuaries).

The Canada Wildlife Act also provides for the creation of Marine Wildlife Areas, to be managed for the protection of marine wildlife. Marine Wildlife Areas are more than 12 nautical miles from land (areas closer to the shore are designated as National Wildlife Areas).

Marine Wildlife Areas are very similar to two other types of marine protection used by the federal government: Marine Protected Areas, designated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Oceans Act; and National Marine Conservation Areas, designated by Parks Canada under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act.

Cooperation for Wildlife Protection

Environment Canada may establish partnerships through agreements with provinces, municipal authorities, or any other organization or person to undertake wildlife research, conservation, interpretation programs, and measures. Agreements involving parties other than a provincial government will require the approval of the provincial government.

The Minister may, in cooperation with one or more provincial governments, take measures to protect any species of wildlife in danger of extinction. However, with the enactment of the Species At Risk Act coordination of endangered species protection will probably be carried out under that Act.

Related Guide Pages:

For More Information about the Canada Wildlife Act: