One of the key environmental impacts that must be considered during project development is how animal species will be affected. Understanding how a new hospital, highway, wind turbine or other form of built infrastructure impacts animal life can help determine whether the environmental cost of a development is too high to make the project viable.
In the case of bird populations, most birds in Canada are protected by the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, which prohibits the disturbance or destruction of migratory birds, their eggs and nests on all lands in Canada, even incidentally. However, protections have changed due to an update in the federal legislation, and it is extremely important for project developers to understand the regulatory changes in order to avoid project delays.
Upon the enforcement of the modernized Migratory Birds Regulations (MBR, July 2022), nest protection for most migratory bird species has been limited to active nests (containing eggs or young), when they have conservation value. However, Schedule 1 of the MBR, 2022 identifies 18 species whose nests are protected year-round, and must be registered and confirmed inactive for a defined period (12 to 36 months, depending on the species) before they can be disturbed or destroyed. The list of species on Schedule 1 consists of 11 marine birds, 6 herons and egrets, and pileated woodpecker.
With the new regulations in place, it is important that developers be compliant to avoid any unnecessary project delays.
The best possible course of action to comply with the modernized Migratory Birds Regulations is to schedule surveys in the early stages of project planning. This creates the opportunity to avoid nests through project design, and starts the clock where avoidance is not an option.
Although Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) can issue permits allowing the destruction of migratory bird nests, there are currently no permits available to exempt development, including maintenance and rehabilitation activities. Proponents can apply for a damage or danger permit to remove a migratory bird nest if it can be clearly demonstrated that the nest is causing damage or posing a risk to human health or safety.
By taking proactive measures, impacts to migratory birds should be avoidable.
We Can Help!
WSP has the expertise to support project owners and developers at all stages of planning and regulatory compliance, including:
- Screening project sites for potential interaction
- Nest surveys and monitoring
- Consultation with ECCC CWS
- Nest registration and permitting support
- Advisory support
Visit our Environmental Planning page to learn more about how WSP helps companies navigate complex environmental compliance needs.
To discuss how to ensure you are meeting the requirements of the modernized Migratory Birds Regulations, please contact: