Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The migratory bird treaty and a century of waterfowl conservation

February 1, 2018

In the final decades of the nineteenth century, concern was building about the status of migratory bird populations in North America. In this literature review, we describe how that concern led to a landmark conservation agreement in 1916, between the United States and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) to conserve migratory birds shared by Canada and the United States. Drawing on published literature and our personal experience, we describe how subsequent enabling acts in both countries gave rise to efforts to better estimate population sizes and distributions, assess harvest rates and demographic impacts, design and fund landscape-level habitat conservation initiatives, and organize necessary political and regulatory processes. Executing these steps required large-scale thinking, unprecedented regional and international cooperation, ingenuity, and a commitment to scientific rigor and adaptive management. We applaud the conservation efforts begun 100 years ago with the Migratory Bird Treaty Convention. The agreement helped build the field of wildlife ecology and conservation in the twentieth century but only partially prepares us for the ecological and social challenges ahead. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title The migratory bird treaty and a century of waterfowl conservation
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21326
Authors Michael G. Anderson, Ray T. Alisauskas, Bruce D. J. Batt, Robert J. Blohm, Kenneth F. Higgins, Matthew Perry, James K. Ringelman, James S. Sedinger, Jerome R. Serie, David E. Sharp, David L. Trauger, Christopher K. Williams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70195351
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center