Government of Canada recognizes important science work carried out by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

News Release

November 27, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is an independent panel of wildlife science experts that provides advice on wildlife species at risk of extinction in Canada. The committee provides this advice to both the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council.

Today, a reception was held to celebrate the 40 years of commitment from past and current COSEWIC members. At the reception, there was a strong focus on wildlife science and its importance for making good policy decisions.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Dominic LeBlanc and Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change were joined by numerous COSEWIC scientists to recognize the importance of COSEWIC’s work, especially as it relates to their primary role as an advisory body for the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

COSEWIC assesses Canadian species using the best available scientific, Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and community knowledge. Its process is thorough, independent and transparent. And the Government of Canada takes COSEWIC's designations into consideration when establishing the legal list of wildlife species at risk under SARA.

During the reception, the Government of Canada committed to a targeted timeline for making decisions to list species under SARA, following COSEWIC’s submission of its assessments to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The timeline would be 24 months for terrestrial species and some aquatic species, and 36 months for more complex aquatic species such as actively fished species.


“I want to congratulate the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada on 40 years of devotion to wildlife conservation. The scientific credibility associated with the Committee’s independent species’ assessments is a cornerstone to the implementation of the Species at Risk Act. Together we are working to enhance the protection of Canada’s endangered species.”

– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick Facts

  • COSEWIC’s creation in 1977 arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically defensible, national classification of wildlife species at risk.

  • Originally, COSEWIC’s mandate considered only vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes) and plants. In 1994, their mandate was expanded to include molluscs, lepidopterans (butterflies and moths), lichens and mosses. In 2003, COSEWIC also begin assessing the status of arthropods (a very diverse group of animals, including dragonflies, beetles, crayfish and spiders).

  • As of April 2017, COSEWIC assessed 735 species in various risk categories In addition, 16 species were designated extinct, 186 not at risk and 58 requiring more data to properly classify.

  • In September 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada shared a plan on its path forward for listing terrestrial species under SARA which aims to get species more immediate protections.

Associated Links


Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Natural Resources in Canada’s Facebook page

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