Species at risk population trends

Access PDF (666 kB)

Healthy wildlife populations are an important part of biodiversity. In Canada, some species that have experienced population declines or are naturally rare are now in danger of disappearing. Recovery or management actions are put in place to protect wildlife species that are identified as being at risk and are in danger of disappearing. Ensuring the successful recovery or management of a species at risk can be a long-term process involving various measures to stop or reverse the decline in the species and improve the likelihood that it will persist in the wild. This indicator provides a preliminary assessment of whether the population (how many) and distribution (how they are spread out) trends of species at risk listed under the Species at Risk Act are consistent with the recovery or management objectives. 

Summary

Species at risk population trends

Key results

Of the 141 species at risk for which trends could be determined:

  • 58 species (41%) show progress towards their population and distribution objectives
  • 16 species (11%) show mixed evidence, meaning that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline
  • 67 species (48%) do not show progress

Progress of species at risk towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021

Progress of species at risk towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021
Data table for the long description
Progress of species at risk towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021
Progress Number of species Species (common name)
Show progress 58
Anticosti Aster; Atlantic Whitefish; Atlantic Wolffish; Banded Killifish (Newfoundland population); Banff Springs Snail; Blackstripe Topminnow; Black-tailed Prairie Dog; Bolander's Quillwort; Carmine Shiner; Coastal Wood Fern; Common Nighthawk; Cucumber Tree; Fin Whale (Atlantic population); Frosted Glass-whiskers (Atlantic population); Haller's Apple Moss; Harlequin Duck (Eastern population); Hotwater Physa; Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific northern resident population); Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific transient population); Leatherback Sea Turtle (Atlantic population); North Atlantic Right Whale; Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population); Northern Riffleshell; Northern Wolffish; Olympia Oyster; Paxton Lake Benthic Threespine Stickleback; Paxton Lake Limnetic Threespine Stickleback; Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius; Pink Coreopsis; Prairie Lupine; Rainbow Smelt (Lake Utopia small-bodied population); Rayed Bean; Red Knot islandica subspecies; Rusty Blackbird; Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies; Short-tailed Albatross; Snuffbox; Soapweed; Sonora Skipper; Spoon-leaved Moss; Spotted Wintergreen; Spotted Wolffish; Sprague's Pipit; Steller Sea Lion; Sweet Pepperbush; Swift Fox; Vananda Creek Benthic Threespine Stickleback; Vananda Creek Limnetic Threespine Stickleback; Water Pennywort; Wavy-rayed Lampmussel; Western Prairie Fringed-orchid; Western Silvery Minnow; Whooping Crane; Wood-poppy; Yellow Lampmussel; Yucca Moth; Hooded Warbler
Mixed evidence 16 Blanding's Turtle (Nova Scotia population); Boreal Felt Lichen (Boreal population); Burrowing Owl; Canada Warbler; Common Hoptree; Deerberry; Eastern Mountain Avens; Louisiana Waterthrush; Olive-sided Flycatcher; Plymouth Gentian; Poor Pocket Moss; Poweshiek Skipperling; Rusty Cord-moss; Seaside Birds-foot Lotus; Vole Ears Lichen; Water-plantain Buttercup; Woodland Caribou (Northern Mountain population)
Do not show progress 67 American Water-willow; Atlantic Salmon (Inner Bay of Fundy population); Band-tailed Pigeon; Baikal Sedge; Bear's-foot Sanicle; Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population); Black-footed Ferret; Boreal Felt Lichen (Atlantic population); Channel Darter; Chestnut-collared Longspur; Copper Redhorse; Cryptic Paw Lichen; Dakota Skipper; Deltoid Balsamroot; Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer; Enos Lake Benthic Threespine Stickleback; Enos Lake Limnetic Threespine Stickleback; Ermine haidarum subspecies; Fernald's Braya; Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population); Flooded Jellyskin; Furbish's Lousewort; Golden Paintbrush; Goldencrest; Grass Pickerel; Greater Sage Grouse urophasianus subspecies; Greater Short-horned Lizard; Island Marble; Kidneyshell; Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific southern resident population); Leatherback Sea Turtle (Pacific population); McCown's Longspur; Northern Abalone; Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies; Ord's Kangaroo Rat; Pink Sand-verbena; Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies; Piping Plover melodus subspecies; Porsild's Bryum; Prothonotary Warbler; Pugnose Minnow; Red Crossbill percna subspecies; Red Knot rufa subspecies; Red Mulberry; Roseate Tern; Ross's Gull; Round Hickorynut; Round Pigtoe; Salamander Mussel (also Mudpuppy Mussel); Silver Chub; Short-eared Owl; Small Whorled Pogonia; Spotted Owl caurina subspecies; Spotted Sucker; Streaked Horned Lark; Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River population); Tall Woolly-heads; Taylor's Checkerspot; Vesper Sparrow affinis subspecies; Warmouth; Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population); White Flower Moth; White-top Aster; Woodland Caribou (Atlantic-Gaspésie population); Woodland Caribou (Boreal population); Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies; Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies

Download detailed data file (Excel/CSV; 156 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: In addition to the 141 species considered in the Figure, there are 70 species with population and distribution objectives that had reassessments that did not contain enough information to determine trends. Information on these species can be found in the detailed data table. "Mixed evidence" means that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (2021).

In order to assess whether species at risk show progress towards their recovery or management objectives, 2 conditions must be met:

  1. A recovery strategy or management plan has been posted on the Species at risk public registry
  2. The species has been reassessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada or there is a report on the progress on recovery

There are 239 species that meet both of these conditions. For 9 of the 239 species, recovery is considered not feasible; for 19 species, there are no population and distribution objectives in their recovery strategy or management plan; and for 70 species, there is insufficient information in their reassessment or report on the progress on recovery to determine population and distribution trends. Therefore, the results are based on the remaining 141 species.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) is Canada's key legislation for the assessment, listing and recovery of species at risk. The purposes of SARA are to:

  • prevent wildlife species from being extirpated (meaning they will no longer exist in Canada) or becoming extinct
  • provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened
  • manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened

The recovery or management of species is affected by many factors, including the species' life span, reproductive cycle, the state of their habitat, and threats such as habitat loss and pollution. In addition, it can be difficult to evaluate the recovery or results of management measures of rare species, particularly if the species is hard to find and identify. It is important to note that it may take many years to observe the response of a species' population or distribution to recovery or management efforts.

By risk level

Results by risk level

Extirpated, endangered and threatened species at risk
Species of special concern

Species at risk are wildlife species that are in danger of disappearing. Extirpated species are most at risk, followed by endangered species, threatened species and species of special concern.

An extirpated species is a wildlife species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere in the wild. An endangered species is a species facing imminent extirpation or extinction. A threatened species is a wildlife species that is likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its decline. A species of special concern is a wildlife species that is at risk of becoming endangered or threatened if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its decline. 

Extirpated, endangered and threatened species at risk

Under SARA, recovery strategies must be prepared for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Recovery strategies identify, among other things, threats to the survival of the species and its habitat, critical habitat and set population and distribution objectives for the species' recovery.

Key results

Of the 110 extirpated, endangered and threatened species for which trends could be determined:

  • 41 species (37%) show progress towards their population and distribution objectives
  • 13 species (12%) show mixed evidence, meaning that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline
  • 56 species (51%) do not show progress

Progress of extirpated, endangered and threatened species towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021

Progress of extirpated, endangered and threatened species towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021
Data table for the long description
Progress of extirpated, endangered and threatened species towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021
Progress Number of species Species (common name)
Show progress 41 Anticosti Aster; Atlantic Whitefish; Banff Springs Snail; Black-tailed Prairie Dog; Bolander's Quillwort; Carmine Shiner; Common Nighthawk; Cucumber Tree; Haller's Apple Moss; Hooded Warbler; Hotwater Physa; Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific northern resident population); Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific transient population); Leatherback Sea Turtle (Atlantic population); North Atlantic Right Whale; Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population); Northern Riffleshell; Northern Wolffish; Paxton Lake Benthic Threespine Stickleback; Paxton Lake Limnetic Threespine Stickleback; Pink Coreopsis; Prairie Lupine; Rainbow Smelt (Lake Utopia small-bodied population); Rayed Bean; Short-tailed Albatross; Snuffbox; Soapweed; Spoon-leaved Moss; Spotted Wintergreen; Spotted Wolffish; Sprague's Pipit; Sweet Pepperbush; Swift Fox; Vananda Creek Benthic Threespine Stickleback; Vananda Creek Limnetic Threespine Stickleback; Western Prairie Fringed-orchid; Western Silvery Minnow; Whooping Crane; Wood-poppy; Yucca Moth
Mixed evidence 13 Blanding's Turtle (Nova Scotia population); Burrowing Owl; Canada Warbler; Deerberry; Eastern Mountain Avens; Louisiana Waterthrush; Olive-sided Flycatcher; Plymouth Gentian; Poor Pocket Moss; Poweshiek Skipperling; Rusty Cord-moss; Seaside Birds-foot Lotus; Vole Ears Lichen; Water-plantain Buttercup
Do not show progress 56 American Water-willow; Atlantic Salmon (Inner Bay of Fundy population); Baikal Sedge; Bear's-foot Sanicle; Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population); Black-footed Ferret; Boreal Felt Lichen (Atlantic population); Channel Darter; Chestnut-collared Longspur; Copper Redhorse; Dakota Skipper; Deltoid Balsamroot; Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer; Enos Lake Benthic Threespine Stickleback; Enos Lake Limnetic Threespine Stickleback; Ermine haidarum subspecies; Fernald's Braya; Five-lined Skink (Carolinian population); Furbish's Lousewort; Golden Paintbrush; Greater Sage Grouse urophasianus subspecies; Greater Short-horned Lizard; Island Marble; Kidneyshell; Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific southern resident population); Leatherback Sea Turtle (Pacific population); McCown's Longspur; Northern Abalone; Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies; Ord's Kangaroo Rat; Pink Sand-verbena; Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies; Piping Plover melodus subspecies; Porsild's Bryum; Prothonotary Warbler; Red Crossbill percna subspecies; Red Knot rufa subspecies; Red Mulberry; Roseate Tern; Ross's Gull; Round Hickorynut; Round Pigtoe; Salamander Mussel (also Mudpuppy Mussel); Small Whorled Pogonia; Spotted Owl caurina subspecies; Streaked Horned Lark; Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River population); Tall Woolly-heads; Taylor's Checkerspot; Vesper Sparrow affinis subspecies; Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population); White Flower Moth; Woodland Caribou (Atlantic-Gaspésie population); Woodland Caribou (Boreal population); Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies; Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies

Download detailed data file (Excel/CSV; 156 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: In addition to the 110 species considered in the Figure, there are also 42 extirpated, endangered or threatened species with population and distribution objectives for which the reassessments did not contain enough information to determine trends. Information on these species can be found in the detailed data table. "Mixed evidence" means that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (2021).

Species of special concern

Species of special concern are in the lowest category of risk under SARA. These species are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Under SARA, management plans must be prepared for species listed as special concern. Management plans include measures for maintaining sustainable population levels of the species. They may include population and distribution objectives, but this is not a requirement.

Key results

Of the 31 species of special concern for which trends could be determined:

  • 17 species (55%) show progress towards their population and distribution objectives
  • 3 species (10%) show mixed evidence, meaning that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline
  • 11 species (35%) do not show progress

Progress of species of special concern towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021

Progress of species of special concern towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021
Data table for the long description
Progress of species of special concern towards their population and distribution objectives, Canada, May 2021
Progress Number of species Species (common name)
Show progress 17
Atlantic Wolffish; Banded Killifish (Newfoundland population); Blackstripe Topminnow; Coastal Wood Fern; Fin Whale (Atlantic population); Frosted Glass-whiskers (Nova Scotia population); Harlequin Duck (Eastern population); Olympia Oyster; Peregrine Falcon anatum/tundrius; Red Knot islandica subspecies; Rusty Blackbird; Savannah Sparrow princeps subspecies; Sonora Skipper; Steller Sea Lion; Water Pennywort; Wavy-rayed Lampmussel; Yellow Lampmussel
Mixed evidence 3 Boreal Felt Lichen (Boreal population); Common Hoptree; Woodland Caribou (Northern Mountain population)
Do not show progress 11 Band-tailed Pigeon; Cryptic Paw Lichen; Flooded Jellyskin; Goldencrest; Grass Pickerel; Pugnose Minnow; Short-eared Owl; Silver Chub (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations); Spotted Sucker; Warmouth; White-top Aster

Download detailed data file (Excel/CSV; 156 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: In addition to the 31 species considered in the Figure, there are also 28 species of special concern with population and distribution objectives for which the reassessments did not contain enough information to determine trends. Information on these species can be found in the detailed data table. "Mixed evidence" means that some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (2021).

About the indicator

About the indicator

What the indicator measures

The indicator shows whether the population and distribution trends of species at risk are consistent with the objectives set out in final recovery strategies or management plans. Results should be interpreted with caution as it can take many years for species to show progress towards their population and distribution objectives. Examples of challenges in this regard include the long time frame involved as it can take several generations for species to respond to management and recovery actions and the need for enough time to collect and assess information.

Why this indicator is important

The indicator provides a preliminary assessment of whether recovery or management efforts are on track. Species at risk are important elements of healthy ecosystems, and protecting them helps support biodiversity. In general, the successful recovery or management of a species at risk should, over time, stop or reverse a significant decline due to human activity and should stabilize or improve the likelihood of the species' persistence in the wild.

The logo of the 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy long-term goal: Healthy wildlife populations

Healthy wildlife populations

This indicator supports the measurement of progress towards the following 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy long-term goal: All species have healthy and viable populations. It is used to assess progress towards the target: By 2020, species that are secure remain secure and populations of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans.

In addition, the indicator contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is linked to the 2030 Agenda's Goal 15, Life on Land and Target 15.5, "Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species."

The indicator also contributes towards reporting on Target 2 of the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada: "By 2020, species that are secure remain secure, and populations of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans."

It also contributes to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It is linked to Target 12: "By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained."

Related indicators

The Changes in the status of wildlife species at risk indicator tracks changes in status for species at risk assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

The Status of wild species indicator reports extinction risks across a broad set of species and can reveal early signs of trouble before species reach a critical condition.

The Canadian species index indicator tracks average population trends for vertebrate species in Canada.

Data sources and methods

Data sources and methods

Data sources

For species listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA, the Act), population and distribution objectives are drawn from final recovery strategies (for extirpated, endangered and threatened species) or management plans (for species of special concern).

To evaluate progress towards the objectives, population and distribution data are obtained from the most recent assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), from Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation and from other publicly available data.

All documents are made available through the Species at risk public registry or can be requested from COSEWIC.

More information

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessments

COSEWIC is an independent body of experts that determines the conservation status of Canadian wildlife species or other designatable units (subspecies, varieties, discrete and evolutionary significant populations) that are suspected of being at risk of extinction or extirpation. The status report compiles and analyzes the best available scientific information on a wildlife species' status in Canada and may include Indigenous and community knowledge. COSEWIC reassesses species every 10 years, or more often if warranted. It should be noted that COSEWIC reports, including status reassessments, are independent of the other work performed under SARA and do not take political, social or economic factors into account.

Listing of species at risk in Canada

Canada has a 2-step process for listing species at risk in Canada:

  1. Scientific assessment: COSEWIC assesses the status of wildlife species.
    Species potentially at risk are assessed by COSEWIC. The Committee prepares a status report and assigns the species to 1 of 7 status categories: Extinct, Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Not at Risk or Data Deficient. Each species at risk is reassessed by COSEWIC at least once every 10 years, or sooner if there is reason to believe that the status of the species has changed.
  2. Listing decision: COSEWIC provides advice to the Government of Canada, which makes a decision on whether to list.
    COSEWIC assessments are provided to the members of the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, who recommends to the Governor in Council which species to add to the List of wildlife species at risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act. Inclusion of a species on Schedule 1 triggers the provisions of the Act to take effect.

Species at Risk Act recovery strategies and management plans

For species listed as endangered, threatened or extirpated under Schedule 1 of SARA, a recovery strategy must be prepared by the competent minister(s) (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada Agency or Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as appropriate). For species listed under SARA as special concern, a management plan must be prepared. The provisions of the Act come into force when species are added to SARA Schedule 1. See Table 1 for species at risk definitions.

Table 1. Species at risk definitions
Species Definitions
Extirpated species A wildlife species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere in the wild.
Endangered species A wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
Threatened species A wildlife species that is likely to become an endangered species if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.
Species of special concern A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Source: Species at Risk Act (2021).

The Species at Risk Act allows the Government to adopt all or part of existing recovery strategies or management plans (SARA sections 44 and 69, respectively) for a Schedule 1 listed species, such as those developed by a province or territory, if the document meets the content requirements under the Act.

A recovery strategy includes a determination of whether recovery is feasible. If recovery is determined to be feasible, the recovery strategy must address threats to the survival of the species identified by COSEWIC, including any loss of habitat. It must also include other specific elements as outlined in SARA section 41 including population and distribution objectives. A multi-species or ecosystem approach may be used when preparing the recovery strategy if appropriate. A proposed recovery strategy must be posted on the Species at risk public registry within 1 year of the corresponding listing on SARA Schedule 1 for endangered species, and within 2 years for threatened or extirpated species. A report on the recovery strategy implementation and the progress towards meeting its objectives must be completed and posted on the public registry every 5 years. Action plans must be prepared to support implementation of the recovery strategy. In general, action plans will outline specific measures required to meet the objectives of the recovery strategy.

A management plan must be prepared within 3 years of listing for a species of special concern. It must include measures for the conservation of the species and may apply to more than one wildlife species. Implementation of management plans must be monitored, and a report assessing the implementation must be posted on the public registry every 5 years.

Recovery strategies and management plans are as varied as the biology of, and threats to, the species they address. These documents consider the current and past abundance and distribution of the species and recommend approaches for their recovery or conservation. For example, the objective of the recovery strategy for the Poor Pocket Moss is to maintain existing populations through habitat protection and stewardship, including limiting recreational access to sites. The interim recovery goal for the North Atlantic Right Whale is to achieve an increasing trend in population abundance over 3 generations (about 60 years), by reducing mortality from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and habitat degradation.

Species at Risk Act progress reports

Where more recent population and distribution information was available in a Report on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation than in a COSEWIC report, this information was used in the indicator. These reports generally describe actions taken towards recovery or management; they may or may not contain information on biological trends.

Methods

The population and distribution trend information for each species is compared to the corresponding objectives to determine whether efforts are on track to meet those objectives. Each species is assigned to 1 of 4 categories based on whether it is making progress toward the objectives: show progress, do not show progress, mixed evidence, or insufficient information. The indicator is a count of the number of species in the show progress, do not show progress or mixed evidence categories.

More information

Species selection

All wildlife species for which final recovery strategies or management plans exist are included, namely species listed as extirpated, endangered, threatened, or special concern. A species is included in the indicator if it meets the following criteria:

  • Species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened for which recovery is considered feasible
  • The species' recovery strategy or management plan has objectives relating to population size, distribution or both
  • Species have been reassessed (COSEWIC assessment or a Report on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation) since the publication of the final recovery strategy or management plan, to compare the population and distribution trends to the objectives
  • Sufficient information must be available to determine whether the species' population and distribution trends are consistent with the recovery or management objectives

In preparing a recovery strategy for a species at risk, a determination is made about whether recovery is technically and biologically feasible. For example, it may not be feasible to ensure the recovery of a species whose habitat is no longer present in the wild. The recovery of the following 9 species was deemed not feasible: Atlantic Walrus (Northwest Atlantic population), Dwarf Wedgemussel, Eskimo Curlew, Grey Whale (Atlantic population), Incurved Grizzled Moss, Paddlefish, Pygmy Short-horned Lizard, Shortnose Cisco, and Timber Rattlesnake. The species therefore have no population or distribution objectives and are not considered in this indicator.

The following 17 species are not considered in this indicator because their recovery strategies or management plans do not contain population and distribution objectives; instead, they set targets such as verification of the presence of the species in Canada: Blanchard's Cricket Frog, Brook Spike-primrose, Butternut, Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus population) (also Cultus Pygmy Sculpin), Columbia SculpinFrosted Elfin, Gravel Chub, Great Basin SpadefootIsland Blue, Karner Blue, Kirtland's Warbler, Margined Streamside Moss, Mormon Metalmark (Prairie population), Ottoe Skipper, Pink-footed Shearwater, Puget Oregonian and Silver Hair Moss.

For 70 species, the evidence contained in reassessment documents was insufficient to assess whether progress was being made towards objectives. Information on these species is contained in the detailed data table.

Categorization

A comparison was made between the objectives and the population and distribution trends in observed data, accounting as much as possible for the length of time elapsed between the publication of the recovery document and the reassessment and for the biology of the species. Using a weight-of-evidence approach, species were placed into 1 of 4 categories, and the rationale was recorded.

  1. Population and distribution trends consistent with objectives (Show progress)
  2. Population and distribution trends not consistent with objectives (Do not show progress)
  3. Some information suggests improving trends, but there is also some evidence of decline (Mixed evidence)
  4. Available data are insufficient to determine population and distribution trends (Insufficient data to determine trends)

The indicator is a count of the number of species assigned to the first 3 categories. Species in the fourth category are not included in the indicator because there is insufficient data to determine population and distribution trends for them. Should a species no longer be at risk because its population and distribution objectives are achieved, it will be categorized as Show progress in the indicator and remain in this category in future indicator updates. One (1) species, the Hooded Warbler, was removed from SARA Schedule 1 in 2017 as it was no longer at risk; it is included in the Show progress category in the indicator.

Recent changes

New recovery documents allowed additional species to be included in the indicator. Documents are available through the Species at risk public registry or from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

The current update of the indicator added 7 animal species (Band-tailed Pigeon, Canada Warbler, Five-lined Skink [Carolinian population], Red Knot islandica subspecies, Red Knot rufa subspecies, Ross's Gull and Short-eared Owl), 3 plant species (American Water-willow, Coastal Wood Fern and Deerberry) and 1 lichen species (Vole Ears Lichen) to the indicator. In addition, 4 animal species (Westslope Cutthroat Trout [Alberta population], Swift Fox, Atlantic Salmon [Inner Bay of Fundy population] and Killer Whale [Northeast Pacific transient population]) that were previously included in the indicator were reassessed.

Caveats and limitations

It takes time for a species' response to recovery management actions to become apparent. For example, while an insect population might begin to show signs of recovery in a few years, it can take decades to detect changes in tree or whale populations. Indicator results should not be interpreted as a measure of success with regard to the recovery of species or maintaining species until sufficient time has passed to allow species to respond to actions taken and to collect enough information for assessment.

More information

Coverage of species in the indicator is narrow compared to the number of wildlife species assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as at risk or compared to the number of species at risk listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.

While the indicator uses the best information available, it does not always precisely match what is contained in recovery strategies or management plans. The evaluation of species trends may include data from time periods prior to the finalization of recovery documents.

In selecting new species to assess, COSEWIC gives priority to species that are more likely to become extinct. COSEWIC is mandated to reassess species every 10 years, or more often if warranted. Under some circumstances, the reassessment may be delayed, resulting in uneven data availability across species.

With time, the number of final recovery documents and the number of species that are reassessed by COSEWIC will increase, and trends will become more meaningful as populations have sufficient time to respond.

Resources

Resources

References

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) (2021) Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Retrieved on October 12, 2021.

Government of Canada (2015) Species at Risk Act. Retrieved on Retrieved on October 12, 2021.

Government of Canada (2017) List of wildlife species at risk: Schedule 1. Retrieved on October 12, 2021.

Government of Canada (2019) Species at risk: the act, the accord and the funding programs. Retrieved on October 12, 2021.

Government of Canada (2021) Species at risk public registry, A to Z species index. Retrieved on October 12, 2021.

Related information

Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk

Aquatic species at risk

Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk

Species at risk

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: