Legal Protection for Migratory Birds in Canada

Most native bird species in Canada are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA), and are collectively referred to as “migratory birds”. It is the responsibility of Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop and implement policies and regulations to ensure the protection and conservation of migratory birds.

General prohibitions under the Act and its regulations protect migratory birds, their nests and eggs anywhere they are found in Canada, regardless of land ownership, and including surrounding ocean waters; and prohibit the dumping of substances harmful to birds in waters or areas frequented by them.

The hunting regulations for migratory game birds in Canada are reviewed every two years. They are established through a consultation process according to national Objectives and Guidelines.

Permits may be issued under the Migratory Birds Regulations with conditions for the husbandry, release, scaring, capture, killing or disposal of migratory birds, or any other matter concerning the conservation of migratory birds.

Additional protection may be provided through other federal Acts and Regulations, in particular the Species at Risk Act, for migratory bird species that have been found to be extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern and listed under that Act. Some bird species in Canada are also protected under provincial and territorial statute.

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