Landmark agreement between Canada and the United States conserves treasured wildlife
OTTAWA, Aug. 16, 2016 /CNW/ - The skies of North America today provide the backdrop for celebrating a century of conservation of one group of Earth's most treasured animals: migratory birds. On this date in 1916, the first Migratory Bird Treaty was signed between Canada and the United States. Today, the two nations mark the monumental success of this agreement.
A century ago, birds were in trouble. Overuse of natural resources was the norm: habitat destruction and unregulated harvest for restaurateurs and feathers for the millinery trade devastated migratory bird populations. In 1914, the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant land bird in North America with an estimated population of 3-5 billion individuals, went extinct when the last bird – Martha – died at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Amidst this crisis, partners in Canada and the United States recognized the overwhelming need for collaboration to protect species that traversed or spanned their borders. They created an agreement to cooperatively manage and protect birds that migrate internationally. On August 16, 1916, Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) and the United States signed the first Migratory Bird Treaty (known in Canada as a Convention) to protect these shared natural resources. The treaty was the first international agreement forged to protect wild birds, and among the first to protect any wildlife species.
The Migratory Bird Treaty is the foundation for significant achievements in bird conservation that followed, with both nations enacting statutes to implement its provisions. In 1917, the Canadian Parliament passed the Migratory Birds Convention Act. In 1918, the U.S. Congress followed suit, passing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
"During the North American Leaders' Summit this past June in Ottawa, Prime Minister Trudeau, President Obama and President Peña Nieto decided to act for the wellbeing of migratory birds and habitat conservation. They called for a plan to protect the birds of North America over the next century. Our three countries will cooperate in monitoring, research, conservation, and education activities. We must all show this level of commitment and dedication to the environment and to science if we hope to have healthy bird populations for another 100 years."
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
"It's hard to imagine the North American continent without egrets, ducks, hawks or songbirds, but at the turn of the 20th century, that's the way things were looking. This treaty marked a turning point in the fate of our shared bird life, and it continues to this day to unite efforts in the United States and Canada to protect birds across our international boundaries."
– Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
You can celebrate the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial, too. This month, both Canada and the United States are highlighting the many ways that citizens can participate in conservation of our shared bird resources. Visit the Web sites dedicated to the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial for Canada and the United States and pledge to take simple actions for birds.
SOURCE Environment and Climate Change Canada
For further information: Caitlin Workman, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 819-938-9436; Media Relations, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)