Detailed Background

The Federal government of the United States gained authority for migratory bird management through what is known as the Weeks-McLean Law (the Migratory Bird Act) in 1913. Authority was given to the U.S. Biological Survey (USBS), Department of Agriculture, to make and enforce regulations to provide protection of this natural resource. This was followed by the Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada which was signed in 1916 and approved by Congress on July 3, 1918. A similar treaty with Mexico was signed by the President in 1936 and treaties with Japan and the Soviet Union followed. The USBS was transferred to the Department of Interior in 1939 and the name was changed first to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 1940.

The Migratory Birds Convention Act that implemented the Migratory Bird Treaty was adopted in 1917 by the Parliament of Canada. This gave the federal government authority to regulate the taking of migratory birds. Hoyes Lloyd and a secretary were assigned to the Department of Interior in 1918 under the National Parks Branch and given the task of administering the Act. The Dominion Wildlife Service was created in 1947 and operated under the Department of Mines and Resources. In 1950, the organization became known by its present name, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), and is now within the larger Environment Canada department.

This Treaty and the accompanying laws that implemented it specify that hunting seasons will be closed unless explicitly opened by the controlling authority. Over the years, the official document of the federal government in the U.S. regarding rule making has become known as the Federal Register. It is used to publish essentially every action and proposed action by federal agencies. And it is this document that the FWS uses to publish rules relating to migratory bird hunting.

The CWS also involves the public and provincial and native governments in establishing migratory bird hunting regulations through various publications and meetings.

The Migratory Bird Treaty was amended in 2000 to bring provisions into line with Canada's Constitutional obligations to aboriginal peoples and to allow greater flexibility for the FWS to provide for the needs of Alaska natives. New partnerships have arisen from the changes made in the treaty that will allow better management of the migratory bird resource.