Amended hunting provisions of the migratory birds regulations

More than 450 native bird species regularly make use of Canada's natural and human-modified landscapes for at least part of their annual cycle. Most of these species are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and are collectively referred to as “migratory birds”. In 1916, the United Kingdom, on behalf of Canada, and the United States signed the Migratory Birds Convention, which is implemented in Canada by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. The Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the conservation of migratory birds in Canada and the management of the sustainable hunting of these birds.

Biologists from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service meet with their provincial and territorial counterparts in technical committees in the fall prior to amending the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations to discuss new information on the status of migratory game bird populations and, where necessary, propose regulatory changes. The work of the technical committees, as well as information received from migratory game bird hunters and non-government organizations, led to the development of these specific regulatory amendments. During each biennial amendment cycle, Environment and Climate Change Canada releases a consultation report entitled, Proposals to Amend the Canadian Migratory Birds Regulations to facilitate transparency in decision-making, and to provide an opportunity for interested parties to input into the development of amendments to the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations. In addition, individual hunters play an important role in the adjustment of these regulations. Hunters provide information about their hunting, particularly the species and number of migratory game birds harvested, through their participation in the National Harvest Survey and the Species Composition Survey.  The information collected through these surveys is very important to biologists and wildlife managers and plays a crucial role in updating the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations.

Changes in bird population status, including both decreases and increases, could have a negative impact on the species, the environment and the economy.  The objective of the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations is to ensure that birds remain abundant in their natural habitats by establishing hunting seasons, bag and possession limits for each species. For some species, changes to the regulations are required to provide for the conservation of the population and a sustained hunt in the future. For other species, increased hunting pressure could slow the rapid population growth and reduce the negative effect on their breeding habitat.  Therefore regular amendments to the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations are needed to help maintain a sustainable harvest of migratory game bird populations. These conservation measures also enable Canada to meet its international obligations under the Migratory Birds Convention 1916, and also address Canada’s obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a Strategic Environmental Assessment was completed and approved for the 2013-2014 hunting amendments. Amending the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations will help support meeting Goal 4 of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy: Conserving and restoring Ecosystems, Wildlife and Habitat, and Protecting Canadians.

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