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How the Migratory Bird Treaty Helps Protect Wildlife and Habitat

Brown Thrasher by Eugene Hester

The year 2016 marks two significant centennial milestones in Virginia conservation history specifically the 100 year anniversaries of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Migratory Bird Treaty between the U.S. and Canada to protect and manage birds. We will be celebrating these two important conservation milestones throughout 2016 with stories of success and ongoing research here in the Commonwealth that are helping to conserve our natural resources.

The migratory bird treaty between the U.S. and Canada is quite possibly one of the best examples of international cooperation and has withstood the tests of time. In 1916 the U.S. and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) entered into the Migratory Bird Treaty that was designed to protect the shared resources of the two countries and to unite efforts to protect birds that cross international boundaries. The treaty was signed on August 16, 1916 and formed the foundation for the Migratory Bird Convention Act signed by the Canadian Parliament in 1917 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1918. The success of this Treaty spawned similar agreements with Mexico, Japan, and Russia in subsequent years.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

So, you may ask “why is this Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada and other countries so important?” There are many reasons including the roles migratory birds play in our environment, the economy, and recreation. Birds consume large quantities of pests like insects and rodents, act as an indicator of environmental health, and provide significant economic benefits through ecotourism and the sale of birdwatching and feeding equipment. In fact, 46.7 million Americans enjoy watching and feeding birds and spend an estimated $107 billion on birdwatching equipment and travel in the U.S. The purchase of the Federal Duck stamp by waterfowl hunters and others have contributed more than $850 million towards acquiring and protecting more than 6.5 million acres of critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada and the important role that it has played in the conservation of birds in North America check out this video produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • January 28th, 2016