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Proposals to Modernize Canada’s Migratory Birds Regulations to Improve Management of Hunting - March 2014


4. Issues Related to Hunting and Permits

4.1 Permission to exceed possession limits for companies training dogs for retrieving

Background

Companies that train dogs to be hunting retrievers want to use carcasses of migratory birds as part of their training process. Because we want to encourage hunters to have well-trained hunting dogs, the current regulations provide special possession limits for these companies. The Migratory Birds Regulations specify that training companies may hold up to 200 fully feathered carcasses gifted by hunters and taken legally under a Migratory Bird Hunting Permit.

Carcasses used to train dogs are not considered to be “processed,” and so--even under the new proposed concept of possession described in section 2.1--the carcasses would continue to count as part of an individual’s or company’s possession limit.

The problem

Complaints are received from hunters and from the general public when large numbers of restricted species (i.e. 200 black ducks) are used for training. Given the proposed relaxation of rules related to possession limits, we should ensure that exceptions such as this, when they exist, can be managed properly.

Options

Table 4.1: Options considered for managing possession of birds by retriever-training corporations
OptionsProsCons
1. Status quo – Continue to allow 200 birds in possession by corporations. Require birds to be obtained from hunters, but continue to place no restrictions on species composition and ask for no reporting requirements.No change for existing corporations

No opportunity to manage species composition

Does not address public perception issue

2. Continue to allow up to 200 birds in possession, but use only species that are not subject to restricted daily bag limits, and require companies to register with the Canadian Wildlife Service and submit an annual report. Continue to require that birds be obtained from hunters.
Recommended

Opportunity to manage species composition; ensures no conservation risk

Addresses public perception issue

Clarity for enforcement officers

The companies engaged in this activity have more requirements than previously
3. Develop a regulation to implement measures in option 2, but with no registration or reporting requirements. Continue to require that birds be obtained from hunters.

Opportunity to manage species composition; ensures no conservation risk

Addresses public perception issue

Unclear for enforcement officers

Difficult to ensure that species restrictions are understood and respected

 

Recommended solution – Option 2

Key Message

Ensures that exceptions to the possession limits can be managed

Under Option 2, the Regulations would ensure that there is a mechanism to limit the species that may be used (for example, not more than 10 black ducks among the 200 birds).

Companies proceed as at present, but register with the Canadian Wildlife Service

Under the recommended approach, companies proceed as previously, but are required to register and abide by species composition requirements.

Objectives achieved

  • Addresses the perception that the exception for dog training companies could be of conservation concern
  • Continues to allow dog training companies to use migratory bird carcasses in excess of possession limits
  • Clear and enforceable

Highlights

The proposed approach manages exceptions to the possession limit that currently allows companies that train dogs as retrievers to use migratory bird carcasses.

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4.2 Donation of harvested migratory birds to food banks or event dinners

Background

The Canadian Wildlife Service receives requests to permit the donation of birds from hunters for consumption at food banks and fundraising events. There are a number of regulatory issues related to these requests. First, while a hunter is permitted to give away birds taken legally under a hunting permit, there is currently no exception in the Regulations that would allow any person or group to exceed possession limits for this purpose. This means that no recipient, including an organization like a food bank, could hold more than one possession limit. However, if the new concept of possession proposed in Section 2.1 of this document were adopted, then once birds are processed they would no longer count in the possession limit; in other words, the recipient of processed birds would not be restricted by a possession limit. Therefore, processed birds taken legally under a hunting permit could be donated and received.

The Canadian Wildlife Service also receives requests to allow donation of birds taken under Damage or Danger permits. These are permits that may be issued by the Canadian Wildlife Service to landowners or land managers who are suffering serious property damage caused by migratory birds. In the majority of cases, damage is caused by game species of migratory birds. When numbers are killed to reduce damage, the permit holders sometimes wish to donate them for use as food.

The problem

There are two remaining barriers:

  1. the Regulations do not specify that birds killed under another type of permit (for example, a permit to implement management strategies for birds causing property damage) may be donated by the permit holder for use by someone else; and
  2. when money changes hands or there is some other form of reimbursement, it could be viewed as sale of migratory birds, which is prohibited.

One of the key reasons for the creation of the 1916 Migratory Birds Convention was to stop market hunting. Conservation officials wish to avoid recreating markets for migratory birds, and at the same time, would like to promote the use of birds killed under other permits (primarily Canada Geese) for purposes of population control, which also includes birds taken during special conservation seasons of overabundant species (Snow Geese). With stringent conditions placed on the permission to donate birds, it would be possible to ensure that the prohibition on sale of migratory birds would not be circumvented.

Other laws, both federal and provincial, related to food safety may apply, and it will remain the responsibility of hunters and organizations to understand those rules in each province. The purpose of this proposal is to remove existing barriers from the Migratory Birds Regulations.

Options

Table 4.2: Options considered for managing donation of birds for consumption at food banks or fundraising dinners
OptionsProsCons
1. Status quo – no donation or acceptance of migratory birds for consumption or other use at fundraising eventsNo market hunting for migratory birds createdBirds taken for population control under other permits potentially wasted
2. Migratory birds killed under permits other than hunting permits (includes overabundant species) may be donated and used at food banks and fundraising events under a registration system, with requirements to use the proceeds for charitable purposes, and other requirements to prevent saleAvoids waste of birds killed because they were causing damage and/or dangerRisk of creating a market for migratory birds, but little conservation concern because species taken under other permits are generally super-abundant
3. In addition to 2 above, migratory birds--those not subject to restrictions on the daily bag limit--taken under a hunting permit may be donated and used at food banks or fundraising events, under a registration system with requirements to use the proceeds for charitable purposes, and other requirements to prevent sale
Recommended

In addition to 2 above, any hunted species for which the harvest is not being managed near its maximum (i.e. subject to restrictions on the daily bag limit) may be used

Responds to requests from non-governmental organizations

Risk of creating a market for migratory birds

The Migratory Birds Regulations aim to support hunting, but not for market purposes

4. In addition to 2 above,any migratory birds taken under a Hunting Permit may be donated and used at food banks or fundraising events under a registration system, with requirements to use the proceeds for charitable purposes, and other requirements to prevent sellingResponds to requests from non-governmental organizations

Risk of creating a market for migratory birds, including species with harvest restrictions in place

The Migratory Birds Regulations aim to support hunting, but not for market purposes

 

Recommended solution – Option 3

Key Messages

Birds killed under other permits would not be wasted

Under the recommended option, migratory birds taken under other permits could be donated by the permit holder and used by food banks and at fundraising events held by eligible organizations. This would be primarily Canada Geese, and in the case of the overabundant species regulations primarily Snow Geese; both are abundant species and there is no conservation concern at present.

Birds could be served at fundraising events under certain restrictions

Under the recommended approach, birds could be served at fundraising events, under restrictions that may include the following:

  1. only species that are not subject to restricted daily bag limits may be used;
  2. the donating individual may not receive any benefits that could be construed as payment (e.g. tax receipt, re-imbursement of expenses, free ticket, free membership, discounts or any other form of remuneration);
  3. a food bank must give--not sell--the food; and
  4. Environment Canada would not be responsible for certifying or verifying food safety.

Other legislation may also apply

Any other relevant federal or provincial regulations outside the jurisdiction of the Migratory Birds Regulations would continue to apply (federal or provincial food inspection regulations).

Objectives achieved

  • Birds taken under other permits are not wasted
  • Responds to public wishes

Highlights

The proposed approach responds to the public request that migratory birds could be donated to and used by eligible organizations.

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