COSEWIC wildlife species assessment: process, categories and guidelines

Assessment process, categories, and guidelines1

Approved by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in November 2015

Overview of the COSEWIC ProcessFootnote 1

COSEWIC exists to provide Canadians and their governments with advice regarding the status of wildlife species that are nationally at risk of extinction or extirpation.

The COSEWIC process is divided into three sequential steps, each of which has a tangible outcome. These are detailed below.

  • selection of wildlife species requiring assessment - the COSEWIC Candidate List;
  • compilation of available data, knowledge and information - the COSEWIC status report; and
  • assessment of a wildlife species' risk of extinction or extirpation and subsequent designation - the record of COSEWIC assessment results.


List of Tables

  • Table 1. Determining eligibility of wildlife species for status assessment.
  • Table 2. Quantitative criteria and guidelines for the status assessment of wildlife species.
  • Table 3. Guidelines for modifying status assessment based on rescue effect.
  • Table 4. Policy for modifying status assessment based on quantitative criteria.
  • Table 5. Status categories.
  • Table 6. Definitions associated with quantitative criteria.


Gardenfors, U., J.P .Rodriquez, C. Hilton Taylor, C. Hyslop, G. Mace, S. Molur and S. Poss. 1999. Draft guidelines for the application of Red List criteria at national and regional levels. Species 31 32:58 70

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2001). IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K. Available at the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species website.

IUCN Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. 2016. Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 12. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. Downloadable from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species website: Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (PDF - 1.14 MB)

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