FEDERAL REG

SOR/2016-126: Regulations Amending the Migratory Birds Regulations

REGISTRATION OF FEDERAL REGULATION - VIA OIC DATABASE, PRIOR TO PART II OF THE GAZETTE

Registered
June 13, 2016


REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT (This statement is not part of the Regulations.) 1. Issues The Department of the Environment (the Department) uses long-term population monitoring information and bird population data from the last 40 years to determine the population status of migratory game bird species. This data helps the Department highlight species in need of conservation action and can ... (Click for more)


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Published on June 13, 2016

Bill Summary

SOR/2016-126: Regulations Amending the Migratory Birds Regulations

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT (This statement is not part of the Regulations.) 1. Issues The Department of the Environment (the Department) uses long-term population monitoring information and bird population data from the last 40 years to determine the population status of migratory game bird species. This data helps the Department highlight species in need of conservation action and can help to identify the causes of population changes. Major swings in migratory game bird populations, including both increases and decreases, can have a negative impact on the environment and the economy. For example, the rapid population growth of some species (e.g. Canada Geese and Snow Geese) can have a devastating effect on fragile ecosystems and can cause significant crop damage. In the fall of 2015, biologists from the Department of the Environment’s Canadian Wildlife Service met with their provincial and territorial counterparts in technical committees to discuss new information on the status of migratory game bird populations and how it compares to annual trends. These technical committees used survey information from national and international bird population surveys, species-specific studies along with information received from migratory game bird hunters and nongovernmental organizations to identify concerns with population levels of migratory game bird species. In order to address these concerns and ensure a sustainable harvest for migratory game birds, hunting season dates, daily bag limits and possession limits require adjustment for certain species for the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 hunting seasons. 2. Background In 1916, the United Kingdom, on behalf of Canada, signed the Migratory Birds Convention (the Convention) with the United States (U.S.). The Convention, which was amended via the Parksville Protocol in 1995, commits Canada and the United States to the long-term conservation of shared species of migratory birds. Article II of the Convention imposes limits on normal hunting seasons to provide protection to populations that may be threatened by over-hunting. Article VII of the 1916 Convention supports measures, such as the creation of a spring hunting season or the use of recorded bird calls, under extraordinary conditions wherein migratory game birds pose a serious threat to agricultural or other interests in a particular community, with no limit to the time of year or the number of days in a year when these measures may be taken. The Convention is implemented in Canada by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, which includes the 1995 Parksville Protocol. The objective of the Convention, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Migratory Birds Regulations, made pursuant to the Act, is the conservation of migratory birds. The hunting of migratory game birds is regulated in both Canada and the United States. Each country shares a commitment to work together to conserve migratory game bird populations throughout North America. This is accomplished, in part, by protecting them during their nesting season and when traveling to and from their breeding grounds, through the establishment of annual hunting season dates, daily bag limits and possession limits. The hunting of migratory game birds is restricted to a period, in each province or territory, not exceeding three and a half months, commencing no earlier than September 1 and ending no later than March 10 of the following year. (see footnote 2) Within these limits, seasons are shortened to protect populations in geographic areas where there is concern over declining numbers. In other areas, seasons are lengthened to permit increased harvest of growing populations. Daily bag and possession limits can also be changed as necessary to manage the impact of hunting on migratory game bird populations. Changes to either the season length or the bag and possession limits are based on data from decades of waterfowl management in North America. The size of hunted species populations are estimated using appropriate scientific sampling methods and statistical analyses. The harvest is carefully managed and regular changes are needed to maintain sustainable hunting. Both annual breeding bird surveys and harvest surveys are conducted across the country in order to estimate the population size and the take from hunted populations. For example, Canada relies on a number of bird surveys including the North American Breeding Bird Survey (see footnote 3) and the Christmas Bird Count. (see footnote 4) The North American Breeding Bird Survey is a cooperative international avian survey conducted annually since 1966 in the United States and Canada, and is designed to collect long-term data on the population status and trends of breeding birds. The Christmas Bird Count is a citizen based North American survey of bird populations that takes place between December 14 and January 5 on an annual cycle. Data from the Christmas Bird Count provides information about the winter resident population. The Department also supports a variety of surveys to monitor migratory game birds in their breeding, wintering, staging, and moulting areas. The monitoring programs include surveys of breeding waterfowl to estimate population size and productivity, and harvest surveys to estimate the size of the harvest and assess the impacts of hunting regulations on populations. The data obtained from these monitoring programs are used to assess the status of migratory birds in Canada, thus providing the scientific basis for managing waterfowl. Individual hunters also play an important role in the management of migratory game birds. Their skills and interests are invaluable in assisting in the management of overabundant species. (see footnote 5) In addition, hunters provide information about their hunting practices, particularly the species and numbers of migratory game birds taken, through their participation in the National Harvest Survey and the Species Composition Survey. (see footnote 6) These surveys are carried out each year by means of mail-in questionnaires that are sent to selected purchasers of the federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit. Hunters also contribute valuable information by reporting their recoveries of leg banded birds. Through the cooperation of hunters who provide this information each year, Canada has among the best information on the activities of migratory game bird hunters available anywhere in the world. The Migratory Birds Regulations vary across districts or zones within each province or territory. Information regarding the geographic location of the districts or zones can be found in the regulation summary for each province or territory, posted on the Department of the Environment’s Web site. (see footnote 7) The districts or zones are based on the geographical units that the provinces and territories use to manage wildlife. Information on the provincial management units is available from the provincial or territorial governments. None of the changes that are being made to the Migratory Birds Regulations will directly impact the rights of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples exercising harvesting rights are not required to hold a Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit and are not subject to season dates, bag or possession limits while hunting on their traditional territory. Treaty or Aboriginal rights will not be affected by these amendments. The Department of the Environment updates the hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations on a biennial cycle. The Department of the Environment will continue to evaluate the status of migratory game birds on an annual basis to ensure that the Regulations are appropriate, and could amend the Regulations on a more frequent basis if necessary. 3. Objectives The hunting of migratory game birds is one of many outdoor activities that depend on healthy habitat and species populations. The Migratory Birds Regulations ensure these birds remain abundant in their natural habitats by setting hunting seasons and bag and possession limits for each species. The objectives of the amendments to Schedule I of the Migratory Birds Regulations are to create conditions for the sustainable harvest of migratory game bird populations and to provide tools that enable hunters to assist in population control of overabundant species. 4. Description These amendments modify certain hunting season dates, daily bag limits and possession limits for the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 hunting seasons for migratory game birds. Management measures for overabundant migratory game bird species are also included in the amendments. The descriptions of no-hunting and hunting zones were also updated in the Regulations in order to align with changes to provincial and municipal geographic descriptions. Overall, there are few changes in the amendments and they will have minimal impact on stakeholders. Migratory game bird hunters will still be able to hunt all species that they were able to hunt during the last hunting season and will be provided the additional opportunity to hunt Mourning Doves in the Province of Québec. The amendments for the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 hunting seasons are as follows: Extension on eider season length in coastal zones of Newfoundland and Labrador The amendments increase the season length by 12 days for eiders in all coastal zones on the Island of Newfoundland, as well as the Southern Labrador Zone. Since 1997, significant resources have been directed toward assessing the status of eiders in the northwest Atlantic. Results have shown that the populations are more abundant than previously assessed prior to 1997. The amendments lift a restriction that was put into place in 1997 to reduce hunting pressure on northern stocks of eiders. The harvest will be monitored carefully through the Migratory Birds National Harvest Survey. Also, eider surveys will be conducted at regular intervals (see footnote 8) to monitor the populations. Restrictions on eider harvest in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia A long-term monitoring program of eider colonies in the Maritimes suggests that the number of birds breeding in the Bay of Fundy has been declining since 2005. The population estimates for 2014 in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were less than 5 000 pairs, which is about half of the pre-2005 estimates. In response to these concerns, the amendments will place restrictions on the harvest by reducing the daily bag and possession limits as follows: Restrictions on eider harvest in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Maritimes Provinces Reducing Daily Bag Limit Reducing Possession Limit Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick From 6 to 4 From 12 to 8 Nova Scotia From 5 to 4 From 10 to 8 Increase to open season for Geese other than Canada Geese and Cackling Geese in New Brunswick The amendments increase the hunting season for geese, other than Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, by 22 days. This will align the hunting season for all geese in New Brunswick and will not have long-term impacts on the sustainable harvest of geese. The bag and possession limits for geese will remain the same. Establishing a Mourning Dove season in Québec with a non-toxic shot requirement Open seasons are considered for migratory game bird species when those species are able to sustain a harvest. An evaluation of long-term data sets by the Department of the Environment concluded that Mourning Doves could be hunted sustainably in Québec. As a result, these amendments establish a Mourning Dove hunting season in southern Québec. Mourning Doves are one of the most abundant and widely distributed birds in North America, with a fall population estimate of between 350 to 475 million birds. In the United States, Mourning Doves are hunted in 40 of 50 states and approximately one million hunters harvest about 15 to 20 million of these birds each year, typically representing 5% to 10% of the estimated fall population. In Canada, there has been an annual Mourning Dove hunting season in British Columbia since 1960, and Ontario reinstated a Mourning Dove hunting season in 2013. Mourning Doves are widely distributed across the southern portion of Québec, with relative abundance similar to jurisdictions with hunting seasons (Ontario and U.S. states). Breeding Bird Survey data for Québec indicate that the Mourning Dove population has increased by 5% annually between 1970 and 2014. The breeding population in Québec is estimated at 760 000 doves, with a fall population estimate of 988 000 birds. The predicted annual harvest is estimated to be between 12 000 and 23 650 birds, which is 1.2% to 2.4% of the fall population. Adding Mourning Dove and American Woodcock hunt during the Waterfowler Heritage Days in Ontario The amendments add Mourning Dove and American Woodcock to the list of species that minors may hunt on the Waterfowler Heritage Days (see footnote 9) in Ontario. This change will provide increased hunting opportunity for Ontario youth. This change allows mentors the opportunity to educate minors about dove and woodcock hunting practices and ethics, as well as firearms safety. For Mourning Doves, this change does not add any new days to the hunting season. For American Woodcock this amendment will add one day to the hunting season in three out of four hunting districts, but this increase would only apply to minors. Increasing the harvest of Lesser Snow Geese in Northern Ontario The amendments increase the daily bag limit for Lesser Snow Geese from 20 to 30 in the Hudson-James Bay Hunting District in Ontario. This change will encourage an increased harvest of Lesser Snow Geese, an overabundant species. Increasing the open season length for ducks, geese, coots, and snipe in the Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area in Saskatchewan The amendments move the opening season date of the hunting season for ducks, coots, snipe, and geese in Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area (NWA) in Saskatchewan from September 20 to September 1. This change will harmonize the season date for the Last Mountain Lake NWA with the rest of Saskatchewan Hunting District No. 2 (the southern part of the province). The delayed season opening in previous years was to accommodate a lure crop program in Last Mountain Lake NWA that was intended to keep birds, mainly ducks, geese and cranes, in the NWA and out of surrounding agricultural fields until the harvest of crops was complete. However, for a number of reasons, including changing crop types and crop harvest timing, lure crops have not been used at Last Mountain Lake NWA since 2012 and, therefore, delaying the opening of the hunting season no longer serves its intended purpose. Increasing the open season length for Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, and White-fronted Geese for non-residents of Canada in Saskatchewan The amendments change the opening date for non-residents of Canada for Canada, Cackling and White-fronted Geese from September 10 to September 1 in Hunting District No. 2 (southern part of Saskatchewan). This aligns all waterfowl hunting seasons for all hunters (both residents and non-residents of Canada). There is currently limited hunting of other migratory game birds by non-residents from September 1 to September 10, and this amendment is expected to have minimal impact on harvest rates of Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, or White-fronted Geese. Liberalizing Lesser Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose harvest, and establishing special management measures in the Yukon The amendments increase the daily bag limit for Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese from 20 to 50 birds and removes the possession limit in the Yukon. In addition, the amendments establish a spring special measures of a 28-day harvest for Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese for the Yukon. These measures will provide additional opportunity to manage these overabundant species, and contribute to reducing the growth of these populations through hunting. Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose populations have increased to the point where they have been designated as overabundant by the scientific community. In an effort to reverse population growth of Snow Geese, an amendment made to the Migratory Birds Regulations in 1999 created special management measures in spring during which hunters were encouraged to harvest overabundant species. At the same time, the number of days permitted for hunting during the fall regular hunting seasons has been maximized, and very liberal daily bag and possession limits for Snow Geese were implemented. In 2014, Ross’s Geese were designated overabundant. Liberal harvest and other management measures continue to be recommended for both species. Administrative amendments These amendments update the descriptions of no-hunting and hunting zones in order to align with changes to provincial and municipal geographic descriptions. This will clarify the Migratory Birds Regulations for hunters, thereby facilitating compliance and enforcement of the Regulations. The changes are the following: No-hunting zones in New Brunswick: update the reference to Railroad Bridge to recognize the bridge is now part of the New Brunswick Trail; No hunting zones in Québec: update the boundary descriptions of six no-hunting zones to reflect several cadastral and toponymical changes within the Province of Québec over the past number of years. Four of them, Cap Tourmente (water), Cap Tourmente (land), Lake Saint-Pierre (Nicolet) and Cap-Saint-Ignace, are located in Hunting District F and the other two (Portage and Havre-aux-Basques) in the Hunting District G. Precisions relative to geographic areas or certain geo-referenced positions have also been added to improve the clarity of the text. No-hunting zones in Ontario: with changes in municipal and township names in Ontario (e.g. due to amalgamation), some boundary names are outdated and have been updated. Hunting zones in Saskatchewan: update an omission in the hunting zone description. The change includes adding the Saskatoon and Moose Jaw hunting zones to the description of Zone 2 (South), as parts of these zones permit hunting. These amendments clarify the hunting restriction during Waterfowler Heritage Days when they occur before the regular open season by modifying the open season table format in Schedule 1 of the Migratory Birds Regulations. This amendment clarifies that only a minor accompanied by a mentor hunter may hunt during Waterfowler Heritage Days when these days fall outside of the regular open season. These amendments update the definition of a minor for British Columbia in the Migratory Birds Regulations to align with British Columbia’s provincial legislation. The definition of “minor” is amended to reflect the change made to the age of an adult hunter in British Columbia (changed from 19 to 18). Continued management In cases where no changes to current bag and possession limits and hunting seasons are being proposed, the Department of the Environment has determined that current levels will continue to promote a sustainable bird harvest. For example, the Department continues to implement the International Harvest Strategy for American Black Duck by continuing a moderate harvest in the Maritimes, Québec and Ontario. The International Harvest Strategy for American Black Duck recommends a moderate regulatory harvest package for the 2016–2017 hunting season (and by default for the 2017–2018 hunting season as well). As a result, in Canada, the Black Duck hunting regulations will remain unchanged compared to the current regulation regime (i.e. no changes in the bag limit and possession limit). The International Harvest Strategy for American Black Duck was adopted in 2012 by the Department of the Environment and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is designed to identify appropriate harvest levels in Canada and the U.S. based on population levels of Black Ducks and regional populations of Mallards, while sharing the Black Duck harvest equally between the two countries. This is the only species for which a formal international harvest strategy is required, because Black Ducks are harvested near the maximum available to sustain the population and, therefore, both countries have the potential to take more than their share. Black Ducks generally occur only in Ontario and further east. 5. “One-for-One” Rule These amendments do not add any incremental administrative costs to Canadian businesses, as they do not impose any new obligations or requirements. They simply adjust the daily bag and possession limits and hunting season dates. It is important to note that there is no commercial harvest of migratory birds in Canada, and the regulations are written with no direct administrative burden on outfitters, as hunters alone are responsible for understanding and complying with the regulations. 6. Small business lens The amendments to Schedule 1 of the Migratory Birds Regulations apply to individual hunters and not to businesses, as they simply set-out the daily bag and possession limits as well as hunting season dates for migratory game birds. As a result, there are no compliance costs, nor any administrative costs for small businesses as a result of these amendments. The amendments do not impose any obligations or requirements on small businesses. Moreover, it was further established during the extensive consultation process that there are no anticipated impacts of these amendments on small businesses. 7. Consultation Population data describing the status of migratory game birds in Canada is gathered by the Department of the Environment’s Canadian Wildlife Service, published in the Migratory Birds Regulatory Reports Series and used to develop amendments to the Migratory Birds Regulations in consultation with the provinces and territories, other countries such as the United States, and a range of interested stakeholders including hunters, indigenous peoples and conservation groups. The Department of the Environment has a formal consultation process that is used to determine hunting season dates and the number of migratory game birds that may be taken and possessed during those dates. The consultation process for the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 hunting seasons began in November 2015 when biological information on the status of migratory game bird populations was presented in the annual report Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada – November 2015. Biologists from the Department of the Environment met with their provincial and territorial counterparts in technical committees in the fall of 2015 to discuss new information on the status of migratory game bird populations and, where necessary, to prepare proposals for regulatory changes. The technical committees also considered information received from migratory game bird hunters and non-government organizations. Based on the discussions, regulatory proposals were developed by the Department of the Environment in collaboration with the provinces and territories. The proposals were described in detail in the report Proposals to Amend the Canadian Migratory Birds Regulations – December 2015 . (see footnote 10) This document was posted online and the Department conducted a formal consultation between January 28 and February 28, 2016. As well as being posted online, the reports were distributed directly to federal biologists in Canada, the United States, provincial and territorial biologists, migratory game bird hunters and indigenous groups. The documents were also distributed to many non-government organizations, including groups such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation and its provincial affiliates, Nature Canada, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Animal Alliance of Canada and the Humane Society, among others. A Notice of Intent was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on January 30, 2016, indicating that the Department of the Environment was proposing to modify the Migratory Birds Regulations in accordance with the proposals outlined in the report Proposals to Amend the Canadian Migratory Birds Regulations – December 2015. The Department of the Environment received a number of comments during each phase of the consultation process. The majority of the comments were focused on the establishment of a Mourning Dove open season in Québec. The establishment of a Mourning Dove open season in Québec In 2013, with the endorsement of the provincial government, the Quebec Federation of Hunters and Anglers (Québec’s largest hunter organization) requested that a Mourning Dove hunting season be established in Québec. Following this request, the Department of the Environment conducted an evaluation in 2013–2014 of long-term and recent data sets and recent studies to (1) evaluate Mourning Dove population status and trends; (2) evaluate the Mourning Dove harvest potential; and (3) identify information needs for the conservation and management of Mourning Doves in Québec. The conclusion of this evaluation was that the Québec Mourning Dove population could sustain an annual harvest, especially as population and harvest monitoring programs are already in place to ensure that harvests will remain at sustainable levels. From 2014 until 2016, the Department of the Environment conducted extensive consultations on the proposal to establish a Mourning Dove open season in Québec. In 2014, stakeholders and the general public were made aware of the proposal through the publication of the Migratory Birds Regulatory Report Series, as well as at the regional stakeholder forum, the Working Table on the Management of Migratory Game Birds (Table de concertation sur la gestion des oiseaux migrateurs gibiers). In 2015, the Department prepared an opinion survey that was sent to key stakeholders followed by a Department-led discussion at the regional stakeholder forum, where the results of the opinion survey were presented and members’ concerns were addressed. The majority of forum members supported the proposal (6 out of 10 participants returned the questionnaire and among these, 4 expressed support). The organizations in support of the proposal were the Biologists Association of Québec, the Province of Québec, the Quebec Federation of Hunters and Anglers, and the Québec Outfitters Federation. Whereas, the two organizations that expressed opposition were Bird Study Canada and Regroupement Québec-Oiseaux. Taking into account stakeholder views and opinions, a final proposal was developed regarding the modalities of application of the hunt (season length, daily bag limit, hunting zone, etc.). This final proposal formed the Department’s consultation document, Proposals to Amend the Canadian Migratory Birds Regulations – December 2015, that was published for additional public comment from January 28 to February 28, 2016. During this 30-day consultation period, the Department received comments from four hunting organizations (Association des sauvaginiers du Lac St-Pierre, Association des sauvaginiers de la Rive-Nord, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and Delta Waterfowl) along with 288 individuals expressing their support of a Mourning Dove hunt. On the other hand, 12 conservation organizations (Regroupement Québec-Oiseaux and its 7 affiliated clubs, Nature Québec, Enviro Educ-Action, Crivet groupe écologique de Valleyfield and Société d’observation de la Faune), as well as 577 individuals expressed opposition to this proposal. Comments received in support of establishing the Mourning Dove open season included If a species of migratory game bird such as Mourning Dove can provide hunting opportunities without negatively affecting the status of the species, then hunters should be allowed the opportunity to hunt. Hunting is the oldest of human traditions and has a deep meaning for millions of Canadians. Regulated hunting helps to increase knowledge of hunted species and can bring more support for the management of the species. Hunting contributes greatly to tourism and the outdoor sporting economy in Canada. Mourning Dove hunting is one of the best ways to initiate youth hunters, as it requires low investments in decoys and bird calls and a much smaller gauge of shotgun. The main concerns expressed with establishing a Mourning Dove open season are summarized below along with summaries of the Department of the Environment’s responses to these concerns. (1) Mourning Dove population trends in recent years are decreasing and therefore an open season in Québec is not sustainable Mourning Doves are widely distributed across the southern portion of Québec and have an estimated population of 760 000 doves (with an estimated fall population of 988 000 birds). According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the population had an annual increase of 5% between 1970 and 2014 with its breeding range expanding to the north and the east. Given recent biological studies and the low predicted annual harvest, (see footnote 11) the Department of the Environment believes that a harvest of Mourning Doves in Québec’s district F would be sustainable. As with other migratory birds, the harvest and population levels of Mourning Doves will be monitored and evaluated annually, and adjustments to the season length and bag and possession limits will be made as appropriate. (2) Risk to public safety in urban areas and damage to infrastructure (telephone or other utility wires along roadways) Municipalities have by-laws restricting the discharge of firearms near inhabited areas. Shooting birds on wires or buildings in urban/agricultural areas is illegal. Québec hunters are required to pass a firearms safety course and a hunter education course. Through these courses, hunters are aware of the necessary safety precautions related to hunting. (3) Potential impact on food availability for raptors species with vulnerable status Under the Province of Québec’s Threatened or Vulnerable Species Act (Loi sur les espèces menacées ou vulnérables), the Peregrine Falcon (see footnote 12) is the only raptor species listed as vulnerable that hunts Mourning Doves. Raptors have a number of different food sources. Because of the low number of birds that would be harvested (i.e. maximum of approximately 23 650 doves or 2.4% of the fall population) it is unlikely that the Mourning Dove season will impact the food supply of the Peregrine Falcon. (4) Large number of birds will be wasted because they are too small (only used for target practice or ammunition will render the bird inedible) The Migratory Bird Regulations require hunters to retrieve birds that are killed. This requirement, along with set bag and possession limits, will reduce the risk of wastage. While there are no specific regulatory requirements to use a certain caliber of gun or ammunition type while hunting Mourning Doves, so as to not render the birds inedible, hunters typically use different ammunition types and caliber of gun depending on the species. Even though they are small, Mourning Doves are commonly hunted for food throughout North America. Other comments The Atlantic Migratory Game Bird Technical Committee discussed and supported the proposed amendments for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador at their meeting in October 2015. This group, chaired by the Department of the Environment, consists of technical representatives of the four Atlantic provincial wildlife agencies, the Nunatsiavut Government, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and indigenous organizations. Both the New Brunswick Wildlife Federation and the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters also expressed support for the regulatory proposals. The amendments for Ontario were discussed at the Ontario Waterfowl Advisory Committee meeting in October 2015. Committee members included representation from the Department of the Environment, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. All Committee members supported the proposed regulatory changes. The Saskatchewan Provincial Wildlife Advisory Committee was advised of the proposal in fall 2015. From this committee, the Province of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Outfitters Association, and the Regina Fish and Game League all responded with endorsements of the amendments. The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board as well as the Wildlife Management Advisory Council, Northwest Territories expressed support for the amendments for the Yukon. 8. Rationale The purpose of these amendments to Schedule I of the Migratory Bird Regulations is to ensure a sustainable harvest of migratory game bird populations in Canada. The Department of the Environment understands that the management of hunting season dates and controlling the number of migratory game birds that may be taken and possessed during those dates helps to ensure migratory game bird populations are maintained at healthy levels. The amendments make an important contribution to the preservation of migratory birds and to the conservation of biological diversity by protecting and restoring the environment for migratory birds and other wildlife. The implementation of sustainable harvest levels helps ensure that Canada meets its commitment under the Migratory Birds Convention and the amending protocol for the long-term conservation of shared species of migratory birds with the United States for their nutritional, social, cultural, spiritual, ecological, economic and aesthetic values, and to the protection of the lands and waters on which they depend. These amendments are also consistent with the obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Canada is a party. Specifically, they ensure that species are not jeopardized by over-hunting, while responding to the call in the Convention for parties to address the “threat posed by degradation of ecosystems and loss of species and genetic diversity.” Hunting of migratory game birds continues to provide substantial social and economic benefits to communities across the country. These amendments help to ensure a sustained harvest of these birds, so that direct and indirect economic activities will continue to be available to Canadians. These activities stem from both hunting and nonhunting uses of migratory birds. The economic benefits of hunting are considerable. According to the 2012 Canadian Nature Survey, the total expenditures related to hunting and trapping in Canada were $1.8 billion, including hunting waterfowl ($327 million) and other games birds ($312 million). (see footnote 13) Working to create a sustainable harvest of migratory game birds also indirectly benefits the economy and the environment by protecting non-game species and natural areas where the above activities take place. A number of hunting and conservation organizations invest in the protection and conservation of migratory bird habitat. For example, in 2014–2015 Wildlife Habitat Canada, a non-profit, charitable conservation organization provided 43 grants totaling more than $1.5 million that were invested directly towards habitat conservation. This in turn helped leverage an additional $8.6 million in partner funding for conservation projects, resulting in the conservation, restoration and enhancement of more than 87 000 acres of wildlife habitat across Canada. (see footnote 14) In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals a strategic environmental assessment was conducted in 2014 and concluded that these amendments will help to positively impact Goal 5 of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy: Conserving and Restoring Ecosystems, Wildlife and Habitat, and Protecting Canadians. The control of hunting season dates and the number of migratory birds that may be taken and possessed during those dates helps to ensure migratory game bird populations are maintained at healthy levels. Benefits and costs These regulatory amendments modify hunting season dates, bag and possession limits, and introduce other modifications that will work towards protecting and conserving migratory game birds during nesting season and when traveling to and from their breeding grounds. In the case of overabundant species, the regulatory amendments will also help protect agricultural and environmental interests from potential destruction by overuse by these populations. For example habitat loss from the destructive foraging activities of Lesser Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese has occurred in parallel with very rapid population growth in the central and eastern Arctic. (see footnote 15) Overabundant migratory bird species could cause damage to agriculture or environmental interests at any point during their migration. An increase harvest of migratory game birds will help to protect these interests. By controlling overabundant species, these amendments may help to reduce economic losses from crop damage, and ensure that these benefits are sustained into the future. Risks associated with increasing harvest of overabundant species by hunters are minimal, while the costs of not intervening could be considerable, especially if habitat damage caused by overabundant geese threatens the existence of any rare or endangered species, or if important ecosystem functions are lost as a result of such damage. For example, as part of the provincial Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, in 2014 the Government of Saskatchewan paid almost $7.5 million dollars in compensation directly related to claims for crop damage by waterfowl. (see footnote 16) In the same year in Manitoba, the provincial government estimates that approximately $1 million dollars in compensation was collected as part of its Wildlife Damage Compensation Program for crop damage caused by waterfowl. (see footnote 17) A sustainable migratory bird harvest will also help to secure the future use of migratory birds as part of the traditional lifestyle of indigenous peoples in Canada. There are few incremental costs associated with the proposed amendments. Given that some amendments reduce the hunting season or daily bag/possession limits, while increasing them in other provinces or territories, it is not anticipated that there will be a significant net gain or loss in welfare for Canadian hunters, outfitters or other stakeholders that benefit from hunting in Canada. The addition of the special concern measures for overabundant species including the spring hunt in the Yukon and increased daily bag limits in both the Yukon and Ontario will create new opportunities for hunters to gather more birds annually. In addition, the creation of a Mourning Dove season in southern Québec will also create new hunting opportunities. It is estimated that the increased costs to enforce these regulations will be approximately $35,000 per season. Other incremental cost to government to implement these measures will be minimal, as new costs beyond current needs for compliance promotion and administration of the regulations would be minimal. 9. Implementation, enforcement and service standards The Department of the Environment has developed a compliance strategy and promotion plan for the amendments to Schedule I of the Migratory Birds Regulations. Compliance with the amendments will be promoted to hunters via the publication of regulatory summary brochures, outlining the season dates, bag and possession limits for each of the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 hunting seasons. The regulation summary brochures are distributed at the point of sale for migratory game bird hunting permits and are also posted on the Department of the Environment Web site and available for download when hunters purchase permits online. (see footnote 18) Enforcement officers use their discretion when choosing the appropriate enforcement response to a violation (e.g. issuing a warning, ticketing, issuing a compliance order or pursuing prosecution). Under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, a person may receive a $300,000 maximum fine and/or up to six months in jail for summary conviction offences and a $1,000,000 maximum fine and/or up to three years in jail for indictable offences. There are provisions for increasing fines for a continuing or subsequent offence. Enforcement officers of the Department of the Environment and provincial and territorial conservation officers enforce the Migratory Birds Regulations by, for example, inspecting hunting areas, checking hunters for hunting permits, inspecting hunting equipment and the number of migratory game birds taken and possessed. 10. Contact Caroline Ladanowski Director Wildlife Program Support Division Canadian Wildlife Service Department of the Environment Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3 Telephone: 819-938-4105 Email: [email protected] Footnote a S.C. 2005, c. 23, s. 8 Footnote b S.C. 1994, c. 22 Footnote 1 C.R.C., c. 1035 Footnote 2 Article II 4(a)(ii) of the 1995 protocol amending the 1916 Convention between the United Kingdom and the United States of America for the Protection of Migratory Birds in Canada and the United States allows for earlier hunting seasons for residents who live in Canada’s North. For example, since the 2009–2010 hunting season, in some regions of the Yukon the hunting season starts as early as August 15. Footnote 3 North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS): https://ec.gc.ca/reom-mbs/default.asp?lang=En&n=416B57CA-1. Footnote 4 Christmas Bird Count (CBC): http://ec.gc.ca/soc-sbc/info-info-eng.aspx?sY=2011&sL=e&sT=2fa1b0b5-f7f2-4909-aff5-7715c58b268f&sDoc=47&sM=a&iid=a4a653f0-3d00-4df6-865a-9096aa2d44c4&sB=GRCO&RS=7. Footnote 5 An overabundant population is one for which the rate of population growth has resulted in, or will potentially result in, a population whose abundance is injurious to or threatens agricultural, environmental or other similar interests. Footnote 6 National Harvest Survey and the Species Composition Survey: https://www.ec.gc.ca/reom-mbs/default.asp?lang=en&n=CFB6F561. Footnote 7 Migratory Birds Hunting summaries: http://www.ec.gc.ca/rcom-mbhr/default.asp?lang=En&n=8FAC341C-1. Footnote 8 Using the triennial Québec-Newfoundland-Labrador Winter Eider Survey which has been conducted every three years since 2003. The next survey will take place winter 2018. Footnote 9 Waterfowler Heritage Days allow hunters under the age of majority (12 to 17 years) to hunt. However, they must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter who can only accompany up to two young hunters and may not hunt themselves. Footnote 10 Proposals to Amend the Canadian Migratory Birds Regulations – December 2015: http://www.ec.gc.ca/rcom-mbhr/default.asp?lang=en&n=762C28AB-1. Footnote 11 The predicted annual harvest in Québec is estimated to be between 12 000 and 23 650 birds, which is 1.2% to 2.4% of the fall flight population of 988 000 birds. Footnote 12 Government of Québec, 2006 — last accessed March 8, 2016: http://www3.mffp.gouv.qc.ca/faune/especes/menacees/liste.asp. Footnote 13 Federal, provincial, and territorial governments of Canada, 2014. 2012 Canadian Nature Survey: Awareness, participation, and expenditures in nature-based recreation, conservation, and subsistence activities. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Footnote 14 2014–2015 Wildlife Habitat Canada Annual Report, http://whc.org/about/annual-reports/ Accessed February 10, 2016. Footnote 15 Batt, B. D. J. (ed.). 1997. Arctic ecosystems in peril: report of the Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group. Arctic Goose Joint Venture Special Publication, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., and Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa. Footnote 16 Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation, 2015. Annual Report for 2014–2015, June 2015. Footnote 17 Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, 2015. Annual Report 2014–2015, March 2015. Footnote 18 Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations, 2015–2016: Summaries: http://www.ec.gc.ca/rcom-mbhr/default.asp?lang=En&n=8FAC341C-1.

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