[Tweeters] Fw: Migratory Birds Legislation in the US and Canada

Wayne C. Weber contopus at telus.net
Fri Dec 10 22:47:00 PST 2004


The recent publicity about the destruction of the Red-tailed Hawk nest
adjacent to Central Park in New York City has underlined inadequacies
in the laws protecting raptor nests in the US-- or at least in the
interpretation of those laws.

Had a similar event occurred in Canada, it would probably have been
considered illegal, and there would have been at least a possibility
of prosecution of the persons responsible.

I am attaching a copy of a message I sent to the BIRDCHAT E-mail
group, which may interest those of you concerned about this issue.

Wayne C. Weber
Delta, BC
contopus at telus.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Wayne C. Weber <contopus at telus.net>
To: BIRDCHAT <birdchat at listserv.arizona.edu>
Cc: BARRY KENT MCKAY <mimus at sympatico.ca>; MARCEL GAHBAUER
<marcel at migrationresearch.org>
Sent: Friday, December 10, 2004 10:29 PM
Subject: Migratory Birds Legislation in the US and Canada

> Birdchatters,


> Recent messages from Barry Kent McKay, Marcel Gahbauer, and others

> indicate some confusion about legislation protecting migratory birds

> in the US and Canada.


> The Migratory Birds Convention is a treaty signed between the US and

> Canada in 1916. However, a treaty is meaningless unless implemented


> legislation on each side of the border.


> The Migratory Birds Convention has been implemented by the Migratory

> Bird Treaty Act in the US, and the Migratory Birds Convention Act in

> Canada. The Canadian act was amended in 1994, and the 1994 version


> the current one. The two pieces of legislation have similar, but not

> identical, provisions. Even the list of species protected is not

> identical in the two countries.


> The interpretation of the provisions respecting the destruction of

> nests of protected species has been different in the two countries.


> was my understanding that, in the US, protection has always been

> extended only to active, occupied nests (i.e., those containing eggs

> or young). In Canada, protection has generally been extended to


> and inactive nests of species which reuse their nests year after


> (e.g. raptors, herons, cormorants, Cliff and Barn Swallows. However,

> this is an interpretation only, subject to court decisions, and is


> spelled out in the legislation per se.


> In British Columbia, for example, application of this policy to

> provincial highways has resulted in a cessation of the formerly

> widespread practice of removing Cliff Swallow nest from highway

> bridges outside of the breeding season.


> In a nutshell, it appears that the destruction of Pale Male's nest,

> while not illegal in the US, would have been considered illegal in

> Canada, and could have been the subject of a prosecution.


> The US has taken a narrow interpretation of the provision protecting

> nests of protected species, while Canada has taken a broader

> interpretation (although this provision is still widely ignored--

> witness the thousands of nests of migratory birds destroyed every

> year, without permits, in logging operations). What is needed, it

> seems, is a broader interpretation of the U.S. legislation, or else


> amendment to the legislation that extends protection for nests of


> bird species (such as raptors) to the non-breeding season.



> Wayne C. Weber

> Delta, BC

> contopus at telus.net



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