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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Canada Wildlife Act ('CWA')

(current to 01 May 2016)

Note Re Application of the Canada Wildlife Act

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Canada statute website.

Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Protections

1. Overview

The Canada Wildlife Act (CWA) reflects the limited federal jurisdiction over 'natural resources', and so comprises mostly regulation over federally-owned or leased lands established as National Wildlife Areas [Sched 1, CWA General Regulation ('G Regs')]. In that respect it is much like another park statute, in that it applies to federally owned land or provincial land used in co-operation with a province. "Wildlife" for these purposes includes "any animal ... belonging to a species that is wild by nature or that is not easily distinguishable from such a species" [CWA s.2(4)].

The CWA gives the Minister of the Environment the following powers, all the be used in the interest of wildlife conservation [CWA ss.3-13]:
  • to study and conduct research,

  • to enter agreements with provinces and municipalitiess,

  • to establish 'protected marine areas,

  • to take measures re endangered species,

  • to acquire or lease land, and

  • to appoint wildlife officers (who have typical peace officer powers, but also the ability to issue compliance orders and enforce the offences established in the Act).

2. Protections

The CWA's General Regulation ('G Reg') prohibits the following activities in any wildlife area, unless authorized under a permit (see below) [G Reg 3,4]:
  • hunting or fishing,

  • possession of any firearm, slingshot, bow and arrow, or any instrument that could be used for the purpose of hunting,

  • have in his possession any animal, carcass, nest, egg or a part of any of those things,

  • carry on any agricultural activity, graze livestock or harvest any natural or cultivated crop,

  • allow any domestic animal to run at large,

  • swim, picnic, camp or carry on any other recreational activity or light or maintain a fire,

  • operate a conveyance,

  • destroy or molest animals or carcasses, nests or eggs thereof,

  • carry on any commercial or industrial activity,

  • disturb or remove any soil, sand, gravel or other material, or

  • dump or deposit any rubbish, waste material or substance that would degrade or alter the quality of the environment.
The Minister may issue permits authorizing any of these otherwise prohibited activities, "where that activity will not interfere with the conservation of wildlife" [CWA s.4].

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