US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



Published in Regulatory Announcement 50 (1956) 27 p.


Migratory birds, which move across State and National borders, are recognized as an international resource requiring conservation on a continental basis. Protection of migratory birds on the North American Continent is provided for by conventions between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada), concluded August 16, 1916 (39 Stat. 1702), and between the United States and the United Mexican States, concluded February 7, 1936 (50 Stat. 1311). Protection in the United States is provided by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of July 3,1918, as amended (40 Stat. 755; 16 U. S. C. 703).

Birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and by the international conventions are listed in section 6.1 of the Regulations in this announcement.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (sec. 2) makes it unlawful to hunt, kill, sell, purchase, or possess migratory birds except as permitted by regulations adopted by the Secretary of the Interior.

The Secretary of the Interior annually adopts hunting regulations to permit a reasonable harvest of migratory game birds and leave an adequate breeding stock for subsequent years. To provide a sound basis for the regulations, each year considerable information is assembled on current populations of birds and on numbers available for harvesting. Four surveys are made of migratory waterfowl: (1) During the hunting season, a hunter-success survey by questionnaires to determine the number of birds taken; (2) a survey of wintering grounds to find out how many birds are left after the hunting season; (3) after the northward migration in spring, a survey of nesting grounds across the continent to measure size and distribution of breeding populations; and (4) a later breeding-ground survey to estimate production of broods. With a year's accumulation of data, the Secretary sets up a framework of proposed hunting regulations, including season lengths, bag and possession limits, and the earliest opening and latest dosing dates, within which the State game departments recommend hunting seasons best suited to conditions in their States. 3