Canadian Wildlife Service
The Canadian Wildlife Service or CWS (French: Service canadien de la faune, SCF) is a directorate within the Environmental Stewardship Branch of the Department of the Environment, also known as Environment Canada, a department of the Government of Canada. November 1, 2012 marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of Service (originally known as the Dominion Wildlife Service).
The Canadian Wildlife Service is Canada’s national wildlife agency. Its core area of responsibility is the protection and management of migratory birds and their nationally important habitats. Other areas of responsibility include species at risk, research on nationally important wildlife issues, control of international and interprovincial trade in endangered species and the negotiation and domestic implementation of international wildlife related treaties and agreements. CWS is responsible for Canada's National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Birds Sanctuaries which are federally protected areas.
Wildlife management in Canada is constitutionally a shared responsibility among the federal and provincial / territorial and aboriginal governments. CWS works closely with these governments on a wide variety of wildlife issues. The Service engages in cooperative management projects with a number of international and domestic non government agencies and funds a significant number of management and research or monitoring initiatives.
CWS in 2012 has approximately 450 staff and maintains biologists and/or research/operations facilities in all Canadian provinces and territories, except Prince Edward Island.
CWS traces its history to the early 20th century with the decline and/or extinction of several species of migratory birds in eastern North America as a result of hunting, including the Passenger Pigeon. It became apparent to the federal government that the provincial responsibilities toward hunting regulation of migratory birds by various sub-national jurisdictions (provinces in Canada, states in the United In 1916, Great Britain (for Canada) and the United States of America signed the "Migratory Birds Convention", followed by the Parliament of Canada passing the Migratory Birds Convention Act in 1917, which gave the federal government responsibility for managing migratory bird species either harmless or beneficial to man. The Convention adopted a uniform system of protection for certain species of birds which migrate between the United States and Canada, in order to assure the preservation of species including setting dates for closed seasons on migratory birds and prohibiting hunting insectivorous birds, but allowed killing of birds under permit when injurious to agriculture. The Convention was amended by the Parksville protocol (initialled by the parties in 1995) to update and improve the conservation of migratory birds and to establish a legal framework for the subsistence take of birds. Canada implemented the Protocol by enacting the revised Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.
Federal responsibility for the conservation of birds and terrestrial mammals was concentrated in 1947 when the Dominion Wildlife Service (DWS) was formed. The name was quietly changed in 1950 to the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS). Harrison Lewis was the first head of the new service, remaining in that post until 1952. By 1970 it was apparent that federal responsibility was required for further wildlife management issues, such as mammals crossing the International Boundary with the United States, as well as Canada's maritime borders with France (St. Pierre and Miquelon), Denmark (Greenland), Russia and Norway. There were also serious problems mounting whereby increasing numbers of wildlife species were threatened with extinction.
In 1973 the Canada Wildlife Act was passed, giving the federal government authority to undertake wildlife research and, in cooperation with the provinces, to undertake wildlife conservation and interpretation activities. This act applies to all "non-domestic animals" in the nation.
From 2003 through 2010, the role and function of the CWS changed. In December 2002, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was given Royal assent and ushered in a dramatic shift in human and financial resources away from migratory bird management to the administration and implementation of SARA. Ongoing departmental reorganizations through this time period also impacted the Service through the creation of centralized services. Thus, by 2010, CWS no longer had dedicated translators, publications and information staff, enforcement officers or scientists. All of these components had become centralized departmentally with CWS losing its ability to set priorities or control policy in these areas.
CWS currently holds responsibility for 140 National Wildlife Areas across the nation in a variety of environments. CWS scientific experts also advise the federal and provincial governments during environmental impact assessments for various construction and development projects which might have an adverse impact on Canadian wildlife.
The CWS also consists of an enforcement branch employing sworn, armed Peace Officers, known as Game Officers. These officers are responsible for the enforcement of federal legislation with regards to wildlife and the environment. CWS game officers also work in cooperation with provincial wildlife enforcement agencies. Provincial wildlife officers will often team up with CWS officers to patrol areas which require a significant officer presence.
- Hinterland Who's Who - series of vignettes produced for the CWS
- David Peakall
- Ian Stirling
- J. Dewey Soper
- Burnett, James Alexander (2003), A Passion for Wildlife: The History of the Canadian Wildlife Service, UBC Press, ISBN 0-7748-0960-4