Canada hosts almost 400 species of migratory birds, and they are an important component of Canadian biodiversity. Their health reflects the health of the natural ecosystems that support us all. Birds across the country are emblematic of Canadians’ love of nature, and a vital sign of the health of the environment. They are also an important part of Indigenous communities’ way of life, culture, and livelihood.
As Canadians mark Environment Week, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, today announced it is modernizing the Migratory Birds Regulations (MBR) as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to protecting and conserving migratory birds. The regulations are in addition to Canada’s commitment to protect 25 percent of lands and waters by 2025, working toward 30 percent by 2030.
The changes will make it easier for Canadians to understand and comply with the regulations, first enacted in 1918, and will improve the government’s ability to effectively manage and protect migratory birds in Canada. The modernized MBR will also ensure that Indigenous Peoples are accurately represented and that their existing harvesting rights, recognized and affirmed under the Constitution Act, 1982, are reflected. This includes the right to use, gift, sell, or exchange feathers; the right to hunt, gift, or exchange migratory birds; and the right to harvest their eggs.
The modernization of the MBR responds to the current challenges facing migratory birds. The modernized MBR will offer a balanced approach between protecting birds, hunting, land use, and conservation. It is the result of many years of collaborative work and consultations with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, partners, hunters, and other stakeholders.
The modernized regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on June 8, 2022, and will come into force on July 30, 2022. The current Migratory Birds Regulations remain in effect until then.
“Birds are the chorus that comes with Canadians’ love of nature. Their protection concerns us all. When the rules are clearer, it is easier for everyone to take the right actions. Modernizing the Migratory Birds Regulations will improve the ability to protect birds and complement conservation actions taken by our government. It’s also an important step in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, to which our government is committed.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Nature Canada is delighted that Environment and Climate Change Canada is promulgating long-overdue amendments to correct flaws to regulations under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. We need policies that are clear and efficient, and the new regulations are good for bird and biodiversity conservation. Our organization fully supports their promulgation and implementation.”
– Graham Saul, Executive Director, Nature Canada
“Birds Canada is very pleased that the amendments to the Migratory Birds Regulations are now being approved. These represent important improvements to the regulations, such as removing all ambiguity about the fact that it is prohibited to capture or harass a migratory bird.”
– Patrick Nadeau, President and CEO, Birds Canada
“Delta Waterfowl applauds this major update and the re-envisioning of the regulations around migratory birds. Delta has long been an advocate for these changes, which we believe are positive developments for waterfowl hunters. We are excited that they will be in place for the upcoming hunting season. We are most pleased with the simplification for transporting birds once they’ve been processed and the new Charity Permit that will make it easier to share birds with soup kitchens and food banks.”
– Jim Fisher, Vice President of Canadian Policy, Delta Waterfowl
“As President of our Métis Nation–Saskatchewan government, I am pleased to endorse the decision by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service to extend full harvesting rights to the Métis Nation. Respect and recognition of our rights are the foundation of our Nation, and this long-awaited change will have a tremendous positive impact on our citizens and communities.”
– Glen McCallum, President, Métis Nation–Saskatchewan
Environment and Climate Change Canada is an international leader in bird science, monitoring, and conservation, and is committed to the long-term conservation of biodiversity.
In Canada, the protection of migratory birds falls under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and its Migratory Birds Regulations. Birds listed as species at risk are also protected under the Species at Risk Act.
The country seasonally hosts approximately 393 species of migratory birds. It is prohibited to capture, kill, take, injure, or harass a migratory bird in Canada.
Environment and Climate Change Canada works cooperatively with individuals, other levels of government, stakeholders, and industries to minimize the risk of harming migratory birds, achieve compliance with the law, and maintain sustainable populations of migratory birds.
The Government of Canada is protecting habitat for migratory birds by making progress toward conserving 25 percent of lands, freshwater, and oceans in Canada by 2025, and 30 percent by 2030.
The Government of Canada, with the provinces and territories, secured and restored at least 48,900 hectares of wetlands from 2020 to 2021 through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
The Government of Canada committed $1.2 million to international conservation actions in twenty-two countries from 2018 to 2021. By collaborating with over eighty-five partners internationally, the Government has helped preserve 42,000 hectares of high-quality migratory bird habitat.