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Our Biological Services department is made up of professional biologists and technicians with expertise in providing updates on biological regulations – we help our clients understand these updates and how to navigate changes to ensure their project moves along successfully.

Read below for updates on the following regulations:

For further clarification on these regulations and for more information on how Keystone Environmental can guide you through this process, please contact Libor Michalak, Senior Ecologist, by email or call 604-430-0671.

Bird Nesting Season

As spring approaches, so do sensitive timing periods for a variety of wildlife. In British Columbia, most native birds and their nests are protected under the provincial Wildlife Act and federal Migratory Birds Convention Act – some all year round, and most only when active (i.e., occupied by a bird or its egg). In the Lower Mainland, the nesting period is generally between March 1 and August 31; however, for some birds, such as the Bald Eagle, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, and Pileated Woodpecker nests are protected year-round.

Although not always a legislated requirement, bird nest surveys can be an effective tool to reduce the risk of harming actively nesting birds if vegetation clearing for your environmental project is required during the bird nesting window.

Clearing in the Nesting Window and Bird Nest Surveys | Keystone Environmental’s professional biologists and Qualified Environmental Professionals (QEPs) can help identify active nests before vegetation is cleared. QEPs conduct surveys within four hours of sunrise to capture peak activity periods and decrease the risk of incidental take (i.e., harm or harassment of birds or their nests). The surveys include a combination of passive listening and low-intensity sweeps (i.e., transects) of the area. This technique allows the surveyor to observe key nesting behavior and identify potential nests. If a nest is found, a setback is determined based on the species of bird and where it is located. This area is then protected until the nest is determined to be inactive.

Japanese Beetle

The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) is an invasive insect that was introduced to North America from Japan in 1916, and can cause widespread damage to crops, turf grass, and garden plants. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) made several updates to its response to control the Japanese Beetle last year in March, 2022. The CFIA expanded its soil movement regulated area from adjacent to False Creek to encompass central Vancouver, in addition to an area north of Burnaby Lake.

Understanding the Movement of Soil | Movement of soil, and plants with attached soil from these regulated areas, is prohibited year-round. A movement certificate is not required to move just soil or above-ground plant parts outside of a Japanese beetle regulated area.

Those wishing to transport soil out of the regulated area will require a CFIA issued movement certificate. The purpose of the movement certificate is to ensure that the top 30 cm of soil – where Japanese beetle larvae tend to occur – undergoes a CFIA-approved treatment or disposal method, such as disposal via deep burial. Soil that is deeper than 30 cm, and soil that is beneath an impermeable surface (i.e., asphalt, cement, or plant barrier) will still require a movement certificate, but a specific treatment or deep burial disposal is not required.

To obtain a movement certificate, an application must be submitted to CFIA. Applicants must describe the soil type to be relocated from the regulated area (e.g., top 30 cm of soil), the end use (disposal, treatment, planting), origin and destination addresses, and number of shipments. Submitted applications may take up to five business days to be reviewed and before a certificate is issued.  Find additional guidance on moving plants within regulated areas here.

Reporting the Japanese Beetle | To report Japanese beetle or larvae sightings, email the CFIA with high-resolution photographs. When possible, try collecting as many Japanese beetles as possible and storing them in the freezer inside a sealed hard-sided container. You can also contact CFIA via phone at 604-292-5742 for further instructions.

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Pileated Woodpecker

The Migratory Birds Regulation (2022) (MBR), prohibits the capture, kill, take, injure or harassment of migratory birds without a permit and protects migratory bird nests when they contain a live bird or viable egg. As of July 2022, there is also year-round protection for 18 migratory birds species who re-use their nests; these birds cannot be destroyed, damaged, disturbed or removed. From those 18 species of migratory birds in Canada whose nests are commonly re-used, the most common one encountered in the Lower Mainland’s regular forest vegetation removal is the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) – a crow sized woodpecker.

Protection of its Nest and Cavities | Nests of Pileated Woodpeckers are commonly reused for several years by this species and other migratory birds who are often not capable of excavating their own cavities. There is extensive documentation on the importance of the Pileated Woodpecker, and as of July 2022 in the MBR, it has been defined as a keystone species (meaning it has a disproportionately large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance) for the cavity nesting community. Cavities are a critical and limiting resource for many migratory birds, both for nesting and for overwinter survival. Thus, the MBR 2022, provides protection for three years for this species and its nest in forested areas if occupied by a migratory bird for nesting.

When can you remove a Pileated Woodpecker Nest? | The regulations do provide a mechanism to remove these nests when it has been unoccupied for a three-year period and reported through the Abandoned Nest Registry.

A nest can also be removed in forestry operations, when a tree that is considered a danger to workers contains a Pileated Woodpecker nest cavity. In this case, both the MBR 2022 and the provincial laws regarding health and safety would need to be followed. As the MBR 2022 protects the nest of the Pileated Woodpecker, the nest would need to be avoided. To ensure safety for workers, a buffer could be maintained around the tree, within which workers are not to enter.

A permit may be issued to damage, destroy, disturb or remove the nest if:

  • the creation of the nest by the Pileated Woodpecker is causing or is likely to cause danger to human health or to public safety – meaning that the nest cavity has compromised the structural integrity of a utility pole or structure for instance;
  • The proponent owns, leases or manages the land where the structure is situated.