Wildlife plays a critical role in science, agriculture, and medicine. The genetic diversity of Canada's living resources can help ensure that the forests, crops, and populations that Canadians rely on remain varied and resilient enough to withstand a growing list of threats. To protect and manage this precious resource, the Canadian Wildlife Act was passed in 1973. This legislation allows for the creation, management, and protection of National Wildlife Areas (NWAs). Currently, there are 55 NWAs in Canada that provide habitats of national importance for animals and plants. The Wildlife Service of Canada (CWS) is the national wildlife agency responsible for the protection and management of migratory birds and their habitats.
Other areas of responsibility include endangered species, research on important wildlife issues at the national level, control of international and interprovincial trade in endangered species, and negotiation and domestic implementation of international treaties and agreements related to wildlife. The CWS also manages 54 NWAs and 92 migratory bird sanctuaries. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1990) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1999) both supported the need for toxicological research on waterbirds and aquatic ecosystems to support regulations and development decisions. In addition, the Endangered Species Act was passed to help prevent the disappearance of wildlife species in Canada, ensure the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered, or threatened as a result of human activity, and manage species of special interest to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened. The CWS also directs or supports international and interprovincial agreements related to biological diversity, invasive alien species, native wildlife management boards, the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee, the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. With the support of Canada's Council of Wildlife Ministers, the Endangered Wildlife Recovery (RENEW) initiative was launched as a means of informing the public about progress made in protecting endangered species. In recognition of its growing responsibilities to protect nature, the CWS became its own branch within the Department of Environment in 1973. The same year saw the establishment of Scott Islands National Marine Wildlife Area as the first National Marine Wildlife Area under Canada's Wildlife Act.
The Canadian Wildlife Act was amended to include all terrestrial species of flora and fauna as well as all species found within 200 nautical miles of the Canadian coast. The functions of the CWS include scientific, regulatory, property management, political and financial support work. More than 40 years after its entry into force, Regulations currently designate 55 NWAs across Canada that provide approximately 1 million hectares of habitat for wildlife species. In addition, pioneering efforts were made in the 1960s to use television as a medium to interest people in wildlife conservation. The first Federal Advisory Board on Wildlife Protection and the Wildlife Division were created as part of the National Parks Subdivision. The significance of Canadian wildlife cannot be overstated. It is essential for maintaining biodiversity in our environment, providing vital resources for science, agriculture, medicine, and more.
The Canadian Wildlife Act has enabled us to create National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) that protect habitats for animals and plants. The CWS is responsible for managing these areas as well as conducting research on important wildlife issues at a national level. Furthermore, other legislation such as the Endangered Species Act has been passed to help prevent species from becoming endangered or threatened due to human activity. With these measures in place we can ensure that our wildlife remains healthy for generations to come.