II Meeting TABLE 6 MIGRATORY BIRDS
February 11-12, 1997
Cochairs: Steve Wendt, Humberto Berlanga, Paul Schmidt
Introduction: The Migratory Birds Working Table was quite successful in addressing a wide range of issues in just a few hours time. The Wetlands Working Table joined this table for its meeting to allow for full development of the issues. The meeting was balanced between updating attendees on issues of mutual concern and strategizing on future issues and projects.
The cochairs (with endorsement from the Executive Table) shall pursue more formal coordination efforts by establishing an Executive Committee of the Migratory Birds Table (cochairs).
Amending Migratory Bird Treaties: There is a need to legitimize and manage the ongoing Aboriginal/subsistence harvest of migratory birds in the northern latitudes during the spring/summer (currently closed season under the two bilateral treaties). The Protocol amending the 1916 U.S./Canada Treaty has been approved by the Canadian government and awaits "advice and consent" from the U.S. Senate before the U.S. President can sign it, and so complete ratification. Negotiations on the 1936 U.S./Mexico Treaty have progressed well and there is agreement at the technical levels. The Mexican government expects to formally respond to the proposal by the spring/summer in time for the two governments to sign. At that point the U.S. President would be able to submit this Protocol to the U.S. Senate for consideration with the U.S./Canada Protocol.
Update/Revision of North American Waterfowl Management Plan: Doug Ryan provided a background on the NAWMP and the rationale for the update/revision that has been initiated. Since 1986 more than 1 million hectares have been conserved and $1 billion invested under the auspices of the NAWMP. The Act requires that the plan be updated in 1998. The NAWMP Committee has identified a number of options and issues for the partners/public to comment on within the next month. The options range from the status quo to expanding the plan to include all birds. A consultation package has been adapted for each country and distributed. Comments on the plan will be reviewed in March/April and a decision on general direction will be made by the Plan Committee. A drafting team will be appointed in June to begin writing the details of the plan. A final draft will be done by January 1998 for a target of signing it by May.
Milt Friend suggested the Plan Committee consider the goal/objective of wetland quality in this revision.
Shorebird Plan and Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network: With the assistance of Federal Aid funding, the development of a U.S. Shorebird Plan has been initiated. The Manomet Observatory has been contracted to develop the plan over the next two years. The plan will deal with site conservation and monitoring strategy. This is an opportune time to coordinate international efforts better. Canada and Mexico are interested in repeating some survey work in Mexico. Efforts to monitor the 32 wetlands of importance in Mexico is a priority. There isn't a special program for shorebirds in Mexico, but there are some local efforts for monitoring populations and habitat conservation. Additional workshops for land managers should be pursued in all countries to facilitate management actions for shorebirds.
The cochairs will invite proposals for continental monitoring and conservation strategies for shorebirds. The cochairs will ask that lan Davidson, Maunco Cervantes and Jim Corven coordinate on such proposals. The.cochairs will advise the CEC of an opportunity to contribute to this effort. The effort should include the development of an international database on status and trends.
Wetlands International-the Americas: This is the new regional arm of Wetlands International. The Americas office is in Ottawa with satellite offices in Mexico and Argentina. Canada is a strong supporter of the program. Efforts in Mexico have centered on creating a national wetlands program that would develop projects related to wetlands. Mexico has not been able to provide the membership dues (funds) for Wetlands International-the Americas for the last four years.
Migratory Bird Survey Coordination: The aerial survey program in Mexico for waterfowl continues to be conducted by the USFWS. These annual and every three year surveys continue to be useful for management purposes in Mexico and U.S. The surveys enjoy broad support in Mexico. There was a problem this year in the timeliness and completeness of the permits issued by Mexico. INE continues to be the facilitating body for getting the permits, but has to get other parts of the government to cooperate in a timely fashion. Navarro and Berlanga are aware of the problem and are working on solutions.
It was suggested to explore the feasibility of submitting a request for a 5 year permit for these surveys to reduce the coordination problems. Schmidt will ensure that the survey data are available to INE as soon as possible. Schmidt will pursue the collection and distribution of the data in electronic form and at the smallest geographic units feasible to allow for greater use by the Mexican managers. INE will consider having DU biologists and others go with USFWS on the surveys as space is available recognizing the need to maintain consistency in observers.
CEC and Cooperation in the Conservation of North American Birds: Wendt provided an update on the progress in CEC relative to migratory bird conservation. The CEC passed a resolution to establish a working group of the three countries with government and nongovernment people to develop a strategy and plan for continental management of migratory birds. The working group has not been named as of yet, but is expected to include the three cochairs of the Migratory Bird Working Table and others from each country. A CEC report was completed on the legislation in the three countnes relative to birds as a starting point for the working group.
The cochairs will report on the progress of this effort at the next trilateral and may consult with individuals in the interim as necessary.
Partners in Flight: The U.S. Partners in Flight have recently developed The Flight Plan that articulates a logical planning approach to landbird conservation by: 1) identifying priority species and habitats; 2) setting population and habitat objectives: 3) identifying actions: and 4) implementing and monitoring progress. The Flight Plan is a framework to effect local and regional conservation for landbirds. The four U.S. Regional PIF coordinators are actively developing physiographic and/or state bird conservation plans. Canada is initiating some regional efforts in PIF beginning with a meeting April 15-18 in the prairie region. The workshop will focus on the status of landbirds and develop priorities for species and habitats, likely in close parallel with the U.S. system. They are likely to use the newly developed CEC map of ecoregions. Coordination with U.S. at this meeting will be helpful. The Western Working Group model for international coordination was highlighted as a model effort. This strategy made good sense to the Working Table and could be pursued in other regions as appropriate.
Coordination on a regionally international basis is encouraged using the Western Working Group as a model. Berlanga will identify appropriate Mexican - - - participants for this effort and for reviewing plans— Coordination among countnes on regional/physiographic plans and conservation strategies will be pursued by cochairs. As resources permit the cochairs will build staff capability in PIF activities and look to encourage international efforts in PIF with "seed" funding. Schmidt to send copies of The Flight Plan to cochairs as soon as they are available.
International Migratory Bird Day: Several years ago IMBD was initiated in the U.S. to focus public attention and awareness on bird conservation. It has grown in the U.S. to hundreds of events on the second Saturday of May to coincide with the peak of migration. Unfortunately, the success in the U.S. has not spread much in Canada or Mexico. CWS believes there are potential communciations opportunities in IMBD that could be tapped. Mexico wilt pursue it as well. Both countries expressed concern about the timing. It was suggested that different dates could be selected in other countries to capitalize on the bird populations.
Schmidt will provide copies of the outreach materials developed for IMBD to all the committee members. Berlanga and Wendt will attempt to organize and stimulate additional interest for this celebration.
Emergency Response to Bird Mortality: Steve Wendt provided a briefing on the progress since last year in developing greater capabilities to respond to bird mortality events similar to the Silva botulism die-off of several years ago. A network is developing among the three countries and a workshop was held in Leon, Mexico to develop better response capabilities in Mexico. Efforts are underway to standardize the way we gather and disseminate data. The U.S. and Canadian database will be adapted for use in Mexico. Ducks Unlimited offered help in the general effort. Luis Miguel Delvillar and Humberto Berianga are the Mexican contacts for the effort.
The cochairs will ask the Executive Table and CEC to sanction continued workshops that are focused on one or more regions of Mexico as prototypes. Additionally; the key contacts (Friend, Bollinger, and Delyillar) will pursue trilateral development of an integrated information system for rapid reporting of wildlife mortality events.
Birds and Pesticides: There is an identified need to do a better job in assessing the impacts of pesticides in all three countries and developing some strategies for reducing the impacts. Currently, there is a U.S. effort initiated to develop an incident reporting system that could provide additional data on the issue. This is at an early stage, but should involve Canada (Keith Marshall) and Mexico (Luis Miguel Delvitlar).
By the Trilateral Meeting in 1998, a draft proposal relative to pesticides will be developed by the proper agencies. Schmidt will advise the U. S. working group of the key contacts in Mexico and Canada.
Recently, USFWS and Texas Parks and Wildlife were contacted by a Mexican citizen reporting that a pesticide application on sorghum killed "millions" of mourning doves. This event is said to have occurred in Sonora and Sinaloa in September/October. Evidence is spotty, but Mexican officials will follow-up.
Schmidt to provide contact to Luis Miguel Delvillar and he will investigate.
Ecological Problem of Overabundance of Snow Geese: The problem of overabundance of snow geese was detailed. It is an issue of some ecological significance as the Arctic habitat is being degraded at an alarming rate and impacts are being felt in other species. The damage is long lasting and needs to be reversed as soon as possible. The Arctic Goose Joint Venture is investigating the issue and providing data and strategies to the management agencies for consideration. Additional adult mortality is necessary to stem this problem. At the present time there are major hurdles to initiating some of the actions proposed due to legal and societal constraints. Clayton Rubec suggested that this is not only an ecological issue, but we likely have a legal obligation to pursue some action since there is degradation of Ramsar Sites and the Ramsar Agreement calls for recovery plans to be implemented in these situations. Hunting regulations in the three countries will be liberal for species with large populations, especially mid-continent snow geese. Not all snow goose populations are over target, for example there is a need to be cautious about the effect of hunting on snow geese from Wrangel Island.
Canada and U.S. will pursue discussion of new regulations allowing killing of birds outside the open season for conservation purposes that may be possible under a revised Migratory Bird Treaty. There will be a need to ensure strict limitations on which species, when, what is allowed, and when the action ceases.
Recovery Planning for Endangered Birds (Piping Plover and Burrowing Owl): Continental status of the burrowing owl and piping plover are declining and international conservation strategies are appropriate. Working groups of experts should be established to develop recovery efforts for both species. Additional surveys are needed in Mexico for piping plover, particularly in light of the proposed development of the Intercoastal Waterway in the Mexican portion of the Laguna Madre. These species will be considered for inclusion as a priority species in Mexico's new wildlife conservation strategy.
Cochairs will identify key contacts in the countries and provide those names to Gerald McKeating in an effort to begin development of a continental approach to conservation of these species. Mexico (INE) will pursue facilitating the movement of equipment across the border to Mexico to conduct the necessary survey efforts. Angelica Narvaez of the Mexican Embassy can assist.
Project Proposals: A number of migratory bird projects were submitted in the Research and Migratory Bird Working Tables. The Brant Study sponsored by Alaska researchers was endorsed.