Another Migratory Bird Convention Act Conviction for Harm to Bank Swallows

On February 9, 2017, a construction company pled guilty to offences under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (“MBCA”) for the destruction of Bank Swallow eggs, nests and nest shelters. This resulted in fines of $7,500 to be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

Enforcement officers, while on patrol in June 2015, saw hundreds of Bank Swallows flying over a construction site in Leamington, Ontario. This lead to the inspection of the construction site, the charges, and the ultimate conviction of the construction company.

It appears that Environment Canada is increasing its enforcement activity under the MBCA. Last May, we reported another conviction related to the destruction of Barn Swallow nests in Quebec.

Environment Canada reports that over the last 40 years, Canada has lost 98% of its Bank Swallow population.

Bank swallows, while assessed as threatened by the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, have not been protected under the federal Species at Risk Act. At the federal level, the MBCA allows for another way to address their decline.

In contrast to the federal legislation, Bank Swallows are listed as threatened under Ontario’s companion legislation, the Endangered Species Act, 2007. Perhaps this difference in listings rests with the way listings occur under the two different frameworks. Federally, it is cabinet that finally that ultimately decides what species are listed. Provincially, it is solely a scientific decision, in accordance with assessments by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario.