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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Migratory Bird Conservation and #BirdYear a Focus at Recent North American Summit

State of the Birds Report Illustration by Misaki Ouchida


In May, conservation officials met in Ottawa, Canada for the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Canada/Mexico/US Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management. The Trilateral Committee serves as a method for collaboration between all three countries to conserve wildlife and landscapes together.

This year, the spotlight of the meeting shined on migratory birds. At a press event, the new State of North America's Birds Report 2016 was released. The report is the first-of-its-kind to take a look at the 1,154 bird species that live throughout North America and their conservation status. On the downside, the research indicated that one out of every three North American bird species faces a significant conservation threat. On the upside, however, the report does provide inspirational bird conservation success stories that show what can be accomplished to protect birds when threatened.

An official Letter of Intent was also signed by the three countries, which formalized the desire to continue collaborating and finding ways to protect migratory birds and their habitat. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Convention between the United States and Great Britain for the Protection of Migratory Birds. Likewise, this year is also the 80th anniversary of the Convention between the United States of America and the United Mexican States for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals. For these reasons, 2016 has been deemed the #BirdYear.


D. Ashe, Director-USFWS , Dr. Y. Aurora Alaniz Pasani, Advisor to the Undersecretary-SEMARNAT , and S. Milburn-Hopwood,  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister-CWS signing the Letter of Intent.
D. Ashe, Director-USFWS , Dr. Y. Aurora Alaniz Pasani, Advisor to the Undersecretary-SEMARNAT , and S. Milburn-Hopwood,  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister-CWS signing the Letter of Intent.  Photo: J. Duberstein / USFWS

Beyond migratory birds, a non-exhaustive list of some of the topics discussed throughout the four day annual meeting included:

  • Continuing efforts to protect Monarch butterflies, which were the focal point of last year’s Trilateral Committee Annual Meeting.

  • The plight of the vaquita (a small porpoise), considered to be the most endangered cetacean species in the world. Their population has declined rapidly because of bycatch and related illegal fishing for totoaba, a large fish. Totoaba are also threatened, and are sometimes caught solely for their swim bladders, which are illegally sold as an exclusive food item in parts of Asia. More broadly, law enforcement officials from all three countries discussed the broader challenge posed by wildlife trafficking, and what they are doing to combat its negative impacts.

  • Continuing efforts to build on the success stories and tackle the current challenges of California condor and Black-footed ferret population recoveries.

  • Initiatives to control and eliminate invasive alien species as they pose a critical threat to ecosystems and species conservation.

For more information about the Trilateral Committee please visit their website.

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