Related International Agreements

Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in the United States (U.S.) and Canada

Agreement/Protocol/Convention Status

Signed August 16, 1916
Ratified December 7, 1916
In force internationally December 7, 1916
In force in Canada December 16, 1916
Amending Protocol signed December 14, 1995
Amending Instruments Exchanged October 7, 1999
Came into force in Canada October 8, 1999

Agreement/Protocol/Convention Summary

In the early part of the twentieth century, the lack of a uniform system of protection for migratory birds had resulted in many species being put at risk of extinction. Regulations had been established by various states and provinces, and later by the United States government, but these were too often based on local interests, and had failed to stop the decline of birds. It was felt that international agreement was needed if the birds were to be protected throughout their life cycle.

Recognizing that conservation of migratory birds is a joint responsibility of the two countries, Canada and the United States adopted the Convention in 1916. Taking into account the great value of migratory birds for food as well as their role in protecting ecosystems from injurious insects, the Convention exists to preserve both the useful and harmless species of migratory birds, saving them from indiscriminate killing, and protecting their nest sites. It does this in part by establishing hunting seasons for some species, and maintaining that there be no hunting of others. Nests are not to be taken.

The Convention allows that the governments may issue permits to take migratory birds or their nests for certain purposes, including when birds may become injurious. There are provisions in the 1916 Convention for special allowances for Aboriginal Peoples, and these were extended in the 1995 Amending Protocol. The Protocol modernizes the Convention in other important respects.

Convention Commitments

Canada and the United States agree to ensure the long-term conservation of migratory birds by means of regulation, monitoring, enforcement, education, partnership, incentives, and other means.

Canada must develop policy and implement the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Migratory Birds Regulations, including those regulations related to the general prohibitions against taking birds, regulations creating Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, and annual revision of the hunting regulations.

Canada and the United States conduct an annual review to address issues important to the conservation of migratory birds.

Environment Canada Action Required

Environment Canada is the lead. It must:

  • develop measures to ensure the long-term conservation of migratory birds and policies to implement the Act;
  • facilitate an annual review to address emerging issues under the Convention; and
  • co-ordinate development of regulations with the United States to ensure that the approaches are compatible for shared species.

Environment Canada Activities

Environment Canada is leading the Canadian effort to develop and promote the North American Bird Conservation Initiative; a group of Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans are making a blueprint for bird conservation that the three countries can share.

Under this umbrella, Environment Canada is leading development of national bird conservation plans, as well as plans for co-operation throughout the Western Hemisphere (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, Canadian Wildlife Service's Latin America Program, and, in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the possible extension of these ideas to a strategic plan for all migratory birds in the Americas).

Environment Canada facilitates annual reviews of emerging issues regarding birds through the Canada/Mexico/United States Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management. Recent topics under consideration include the impact of pesticides on birds, co-ordination of co-operative surveys of waterfowl, and the electrocution of birds on electricity transmission lines in Mexico.

Environment Canada co-ordinates national development of hunting regulations for migratory game birds, based on co-operative programs to monitor population status, and communicates with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the United States Flyway Council System.

Evidence of Compliance

Canada's annual reports on the Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada and Proposals for Hunting Regulations, Bird Trends, and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (including its most successful component to date, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan), are major delivery mechanisms for the Convention.


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