Amendment to the provisions of Migratory Birds Regulations: strategic environmental assessment

A review of the potential environmental impacts of amendments to the Canadian 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
  • management of the sustainable hunting of migratory 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
  • propose regulatory changes, where necessary

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
  • provide an opportunity for interested parties to provide 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 objectives of the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations is to:

  • ensure that birds remain abundant in their natural habitats
  • establish hunting seasons
  • establish daily 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 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 and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The amendments to the provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations relating to the hunting of Migratory Game Birds will have positive environmental effects and will contribute to 2 of the 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals, including:

  • “Healthy wildlife populations” by protecting species at risk, working with partners to protect species and their habitats, and upholding international commitments relating to wildlife
  • “Effective action on climate change” by aiding natural systems, which act as natural carbon sinks, and maximize their ability to adapt to climate change by contributing to conservation of wildlife species, protecting biodiversity, and improving the health of a wide variety of ecosystems
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