ARCHIVED — Regulations Amending the Migratory Birds Regulations (Mobility-impaired Hunting)

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Vol. 143, No. 20 — September 30, 2009

Registration

SOR/2009-255 September 9, 2009

MIGRATORY BIRDS CONVENTION ACT, 1994

P.C. 2009-1526 September 9, 2009

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsection 12(1) (see footnote a) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (see footnote b), hereby makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Migratory Birds Regulations (Mobility-impaired Hunting).

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE MIGRATORY BIRDS REGULATIONS (MOBILITY-IMPAIRED HUNTING)

AMENDMENT

1. Section 15 of the Migratory Birds Regulations (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

(1.2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1)(e), a mobility-impaired person may hunt from an aircraft, a sailboat, a powerboat or a vehicle referred to in that paragraph if it is stationary and if the person

(a) is authorized, under the laws of the province where the hunting occurs, to hunt in a manner described in that paragraph, if those laws provide for such an authorization; and

(b) has a medical certificate referred to in subsection (1.3), in any other case.

(1.3) The medical certificate must

(a) be signed by a medical practitioner lawfully entitled to practise medicine in any province;

(b) attest to the person’s impairment of mobility because of a condition that is not temporary in nature and that severely limits the use of their legs, including being paraplegic, being hemiplegic, being dependent on a wheelchair to move about, having prostheses on both legs and having a leg amputated above the knee; and

(c) attest that the practitioner is not aware of any medical reason to believe that the person is not capable of operating, in a competent manner, the weapon that they use to hunt.

COMING INTO FORCE

2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT
ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issue and objectives

This amendment to the Migratory Birds Regulations is intended to relieve an unnecessary burden on mobility-impaired hunters of migratory birds, in recognition of their need to have use of a motorized vehicle to move to a location from which they can hunt. These Regulations complement existing provincial and territorial hunting regulations, which have in most cases been amended to provide similar exceptions to the general prohibition against hunting wildlife from a vehicle.

Description and rationale

In many situations, mobility-impaired hunters require the ability to hunt from a stationary vehicle in order to hunt. Mobility-impaired hunters in Canada face a significant challenge under the Migratory Birds Regulations since the Regulations prohibit the hunting of migratory game birds from an aircraft, sailboat, powerboat or motorized vehicle.

The Regulations provide an exception to the general prohibition against hunting migratory birds from vehicles, including aircraft, sailboat or powerboat, to allow a hunter who is mobility-impaired to hunt migratory birds from a vehicle that is stationary, provided

1. that they qualify to hunt from a stationary vehicle under a scheme for mobility-impaired hunters set up under the provincial hunting legislation, or

2. that they have an appropriate medical certificate as required in these amendments.

The changes to the Regulations will benefit mobility-impaired hunters who previously were not permitted to hunt from stationary vehicles. The changes are not expected to result in any significant environmental costs or costs to the government.

The hunting of migratory birds in Canada is controlled by federal regulations, under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, through the Migratory BirdsRegulations. One aspect is the control of hunting methods and equipment by, for example, prohibiting the use of certain equipment or specific hunting methods such as hunting from a vehicle. Safety is a consideration in such controls, as is the conservation of migratory birds.

The prohibition from hunting migratory game birds from a vehicle in paragraph 15(1)(e) of the Regulations is important in a general sense because of health and safety concerns, and because some migratory bird species, lacking natural fear of people in automobiles, may be especially vulnerable if hunted from a vehicle. In the case of some mobility-impaired hunters who can not use a more usual hunting method, this prohibition can be excessive.

The Field and Stream Association for Manitobans with Disabilities contacted Environment Canada requesting that such an amendment be done. The association reported that the provincial hunting regulations in Manitoba had been modified to allow a permanently disabled hunter to discharge a firearm from a stationary vehicle while hunting for big game.

Provincial regulations, passed under the various provincial and territorial wildlife acts, control the hunting of all provincially managed wildlife species. Many local and safety-oriented concerns such as hunter safety training are dealt with through provincial/territorial regulations and provide for a safe environment for the hunting of migratory birds. Most provinces now have made exceptions in the case of mobility-impaired hunters to allow them to hunt from stationary vehicles.

Canada and the United States share a commitment to work together to conserve migratory game bird populations in North America. In 1916, they signed the Migratory Birds Convention, which was implemented in Canada by the Migratory Birds Convention Act proclaimed in 1917. The Act has been amended from time to time (most recently in 2005) and is now called the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. The Migratory Birds Regulations are made pursuant to this Act. Both the Convention and the Act set general prohibitions on activities that may harm migratory birds. Permitting systems allow for some activities to occur.

Consultation

Since 2003, Environment Canada has been publishing announcements that an amendment to the Migratory Birds Regulations to allow some mobility-impaired hunters to hunt migratory birds from a stationary vehicle was under consideration. The topic was presented repeatedly in the document entitled Proposals to Amend the Migratory Birds Regulations (issued by the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada each year in December). As well as being posted on the Canadian Wildlife Service part of the Environment Canada Web site, the document was distributed directly to stakeholders potentially impacted such as provincial and territorial government officials, associations representing mobility-impaired persons, hunting associations, provincial and territorial biologists, and Aboriginal groups. The document was also distributed to non-government organizations, including the Canadian Wildlife Federation and its provincial affiliates, the Canadian Nature Federation, the World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited and the Delta Waterfowl Research Station. A number of alternatives were considered through these early consultations and Environment Canada received significant feedback that required further analysis. Due to a significant number of competing priorities and the amount of research involved, it took an extended period to complete this analysis.

On January 30, 2009, the Director General of the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada distributed a draft regulatory strategy entitled Regulatory Strategy to allow for Mobility-Impaired Hunters to Hunt Migratory Birds from a Motorized Vehicle — Document for Consultation on Environment Canada’s Proposed New Regulatory Approach. Responses were supportive of the amendment and a number of positive suggestions were received. One commenter from a company opposed the amendments based on health and safety concerns regarding the use of firearms in a vehicle. However, the concerns raised are covered in aspects of hunting legislation typically included at the provincial/territorial level. All federal legislation controlling firearms will continue to apply. The amendment to the Migratory Birds Regulations does not relax any currently applicable provisions in other Canadian legislation relating to safety, transportation, and property.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The regulatory amendment will have no environmental impact as it does not amend the season dates, bag limits, and other regulations already in place to protect migratory game birds.

The amendment came into effect upon registration and, as such, Canadian hunters who are mobility-impaired may now hunt migratory birds from a stationary vehicle.

For provinces and territories that authorize mobility-impaired hunters to hunt, the mobility-impaired hunter is required to have that authorization together with the federal migratory bird hunting permit in their possession while hunting. In provinces and territories that do not allow mobility-impaired hunters to hunt from a stationary vehicle, the hunter needs to have a certificate from a licensed medical practitioner together with the migratory bird permit in their possession while hunting.

These Regulations are not expected to apply to a significant number of hunters. The large majority of those who hunt in provinces where programs allowing mobility-impaired hunters to hunt already exist, and these programs apply to relatively few people. In Alberta, for example, the number of qualified mobility-impaired hunters under the provision allowing discharge of firearms from a vehicle was 23 in 2003 and 22 in 2002.

The Regulations do not require that mobility-impaired hunters be accompanied by a retrieval dog or able-bodied hunter. While the regulatory strategy proposed such a condition, it is not considered necessary given that the Regulations already require all hunters to retrieve any bird that is killed or injured.

Enforcement officers of Environment Canada and provincial and territorial conservation officers enforce the Migratory Birds Regulations by, for example, inspecting hunting areas, checking hunters for hunting permits, inspecting hunting equipment and the number of migratory game birds taken and possessed. This amendment does not change the number or nature of such inspections.

Under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, a person may receive a $300,000 maximum fine and/or up to six months in jail for summary conviction offences and a $1,000,0000 maximum fine and/or up to three years in jail for indictable offences. There are provisions for increasing fines for a continuing or subsequent offence. Enforcement officers also have the discretion to issue tickets for some minor offences.

Contact

Mary Taylor
Director
Conservation Service Delivery and Permitting
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H3
Telephone: 819-953-9097

Footnote a
S.C. 2005, c. 23, s. 8

Footnote b
S.C. 1994, c. 22

Footnote 1
C.R.C., c. 1035