Species at Risk Act annual report for 2016: chapter 3

3 Listing of species at risk

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3.1 Listing process

Upon formally receiving the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)’s assessments, the Minister of the Environment has 90 days to post a response statement on the Species at risk public registry indicating how the Minister intends to respond to each assessment and, to the extent possible, providing timelines for action.

During this 90-day period, the relevant competent minister carries out an internal review to determine the level of public consultation and socio-economic analysis necessary to inform the listing decision. Timelines for action and the scope of consultations included in the response statement are based on the results of this initial review.

In addition to public consultation and socio-economic analysis, for aquatic species classified as threatened or endangered Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) often develops science advice in the form of a recovery potential assessment. This provides scientific information on the current status of the species, population or designatable unit, threats to its survival and recovery, and the feasibility of its recovery in given scenarios. These recovery potential assessments are taken into consideration at various steps in the SARA process, including at the recovery planning stage. In 2016, DFO led five recovery potential assessments for five species: Winter Skate, White Sturgeon, Bull Trout, Rainbow Trout, Black Redhorse. The department also produced reports associated with recovery potential assessments (2 proceedings, 9 research documents, and 5 science advisory reports).

Figure 1 outlines the species listing process under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Table 2 (see section 3.4) provides the status of the listing process for each batch of assessed species.

Figure 1: The species listing process under SARA

The Minister of the Environment receives species assessments from COSEWIC at least once per year.

The competent departments undertake an internal review to determine the extent of public consultation and socio-economic analysis necessary to inform the listing decision.

Within 90 days of receipt of the species assessments prepared by COSEWIC, the Minister of the Environment publishes a response statement on the SARA Public Registry that indicates how he or she intends to respond to the assessment and, to the extent possible, provides timelines for action.

Where appropriate, the competent departments undertake consultations and any other relevant analysis needed to prepare the advice to the Minister of the Environment.

The Minister of the Environment forwards the assessment to the Governor in Council for receipt.

Within nine months of receipt of the assessment, the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, may decide whether or not to amend Schedule 1 of SARA according to the COSEWIC assessment or refer the assessment to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

Once a species is added to Schedule 1, it benefits from the applicable provisions of SARA.


For more information, go to the listing process page of the Species at risk public registry.

3.2 Federal government response to COSEWIC assessments

In October 2016, the Minister of the Environment received the assessments for Batch 14 from COSEWIC. These assessments included 29 terrestrial and 10 aquatic wildlife species at risk. The Minister’s response statements were posted in January 2017. The response statements (full list included in Table 2) indicate the following:

  • for 20 terrestrial and three aquatic wildlife species, normal consultations (i.e., consistent with the path that is typical for most species; see Figure 1) would be undertaken
  • for four terrestrial and five aquatic wildlife species, extended consultations will be undertaken, because in some cases, listing these species could have marked impacts on the activities of Indigenous peoples, hunters and trappers, ranchers, commercial and recreational fishers, or Canadians at large
  • for five terrestrial and two aquatic wildlife species already listed on Schedule 1, COSEWIC’s assessments confirmed the current status, and no changes to Schedule 1 are required

Fourteen (14) of the terrestrial species and 2 of the aquatic species are already listed on Schedule 1 and are eligible to have their status changed: 6 to a higher risk category (uplist) and 10 to a lower risk category (downlist). One species, the Pygmy Pocket Moss, is being considered for removal from the list, as it was found to be not at risk in its latest assessment.

Table 1 shows the risk status of species received from COSEWIC in 2016.

Table 1a: List of species received from COSEWIC in October 2016 for normal consultation
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Endangered Amphibians Unisexual Ambystoma (Jefferson Salamander dependent population) Ambystoma laterale - (2) jeffersonianum
Endangered Amphibians Unisexual Ambystoma (Small-mouthed Salamander dependent population) Ambystoma laterale - texanum
Endangered Arthropods Hoptree Borer Trimerotropis huroniana
Threatened Arthropods Lake Huron Grasshopper Trimerotropis huroniana
Threatened Lichens Wrinkled Shingle Lichen Lepomis peltastes
Special Concern Fishes (freshwater) Northern Sunfish (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations) Lepomis peltastes
Special Concern Lichens Mountain Crab-eye Acroscyphus sphaerophoroides
Special Concern Molluscs Pygmy Slug Kootenaia burkei
Special Concern Molluscs Sheathed Slug Zacoleus idahoensis
↑From Threatened to Endangered Fishes (freshwater) Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus
↑From Threatened to Endangered Reptiles Spiny Softshell Apalone spinifera
↑From Threatened to Endangered Vascular Plants Colicroot Aletris farinosa
↑From Special Concern to Threatened Birds Louisiana Waterthrush Rhynchophanes mccownii
↑From Special Concern to Threatened Birds McCown’s Longspur Rhynchophanes mccownii
↓From Endangered to Threatened Birds Red Crossbill percna subspecies Loxia curvirostra percna
↓From Endangered to Threatened Molluscs Blue-grey Taildropper Prophysaon coeruleum
↓From Endangered to Threatened Vascular Plants Bear’s-foot Sanicle Sanicula arctopoides
↓From Endangered to Threatened Lichens Flooded Jellyskin Leptogium rivulare
↓From Endangered to Threatened Vascular Plants Baikal Sedge Carex sabulosa
↓From Endangered to Threatened Vascular Plants Common Hoptree Ptelea trifoliata
↓From Endangered to Special Concern Molluscs Rainbow Villosa iris
↓From Endangered to Special Concern Reptiles Lake Erie Watersnake Nerodia sipedon insularum
↓From Special Concern to Not at Risk Mosses Pygmy Pocket Moss Fissidens exilis

↓ risk status downgraded
↑ risk status upgraded

Table 1b: List of species received from COSEWIC in October 2016 for extended consultation
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Endangered Arthropods Nine-spotted Lady Beetle Coccinella novemnotata
Endangered Arthropods Nuttall’s Sheep Moth Hemileuca nuttallii
Endangered Fishes (freshwater) River Darter (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations) Percina shumardi
Endangered Fishes (marine) Sockeye Salmon (Sakinaw population) Oncorhynchus nerka
Endangered Molluscs Shortface Lanx Fisherola nuttallii
Threatened Fishes (freshwater) Little Quarry Lake Benthic Threespine Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus
Threatened Fishes (freshwater) Little Quarry Lake Limnetic Threespine Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus
↓From Endangered to Threatened Mammals Peary Caribou Rangifer tarandus pearyi
↑From Special Concern to Threatened Reptiles Western Yellow-bellied Racer Western Yellow-bellied Racer

↓ risk status downgraded
↑ risk status upgraded

Table 1c: List of species received from COSEWIC in October 2016 with status confirmed - no consultation required
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Endangered Arthropods Eastern Persius Duskywing Erynnis persius persius
Endangered Mammals Pacific Water Shrew Sorex bendirii
Threatened Mammals Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus
Threatened Reptiles Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer Coluber constrictor flaviventris
Special Concern Fishes (freshwater) River Redhorse Moxostoma carinatum
Special Concern Mammals (marine) Harbour Porpoise (Pacific Ocean population) Phocoena phocoena vomerina
Special Concern Reptiles Northern Rubber Boa Charina bottae

3.3 Public consultations

Public consultations provide the Minister with a better understanding of the potential social and economic impacts of possible changes to Schedule 1, and of the potential consequences of adding or not adding a species to the list. Information collected during consultations is used to inform the Minister’s recommendations to the Governor in Council on amending Schedule 1 of SARA.

In 2016, the Minister of the Environment carried out consultations for 25 terrestrial species for which status assessments had been received from COSEWIC as part of Batch 13. The document Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – January 2016 was posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

In 2016, DFO consulted Canadians on the possible listing on Schedule 1 of five aquatic species. DFO mailed / emailed consultation documents directly to other government departments, Wildlife Management Boards, stakeholders, Indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations for their input, and held meetings with potentially affected groups and organizations. Public consultations were also facilitated by inviting respondents to contribute to a web-based, species-specific survey hosted on the Species at Risk Public Registry along with supporting documents.

In 2016, three regulatory proposals on whether or not to amend Schedule 1 of SARA according to the COSEWIC assessments for the 48 species on Schedule 1 were published in Canada Gazette, Part I for a 30-day public comments period. The comments received will inform final listing decisions for these species.

3.4 Listing decisions

Governor in Council decisions on whether or not to amend Schedule 1 according to the COSEWIC assessments are published as orders amending Schedule 1 of SARA in the Canada Gazette, and include Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements. Decisions to not add a species at risk to Schedule 1 of SARA or to refer the matter back to COSEWIC are published in the Canada Gazette with an explanatory note.

There were no orders amending Schedule 1 of SARA published in 2016. However, in June 2016, 18 terrestrial species were proposed for addition or reclassification to Schedule 1 of SARA. In August 2016, 13 aquatic species were proposed for addition, reclassification or removal from Schedule 1 of SARA, and a proposal was made to not add two additional aquatic species to Schedule 1. In October 2016, 15 terrestrial species were proposed for addition or reclassification on Schedule 1 of SARA. Final decisions on these 48 species are expected in 2017.  

Table 2: Listing processes for species at risk at year-end 2016 (Batches 1 to 14)
Batch and year of Minister’s receipt Total number of species assesseda Assessed as at risk Confirmation of current status Added to Schedule 1b Uplisted (to a higher risk category) Downlisted (to a lower risk category) Not listed Referred back Listing decision pending
(Proclamation) - 233 - 233 - - - - -
Batch 1 (2004) 115 95 4 75 0 0 8c 8cc 0
Batch 2 (2004) 59 51 (+9d) 0 46 0 0 13 1 0
Batch 3 (2005) 73 59 4 44 0 0 6 1 4
Batch 4 (2006) 68 (+5e) 59 4 40 2 0 4 2 7
Emergency Assessment (2006) 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Batch 5 (2007) 64 53 8 29 2 4 0 0 10
Batch 6 (2008) 46 39 14 18 3 0 1 0 3
Batch 7 (2009) 48 46 17 18
3 1 0 0 7
Batch 8 (2010) 79 78 34 14 3
5 3 0 19
Batch 9 (2011) 92 81 31 0 0 1 0 2 47
Batch 10 (2012) 64 57 28 0 0 0 0 0 29
Emergency Assessment (2012) 3 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
Batch 11 (2013) 73 67 32 0 0 0 0 0 35
Batch 12 (2014) 56 56 23 0 0 0 0 0 33
Batch 13 (2015) 54 54 24 0 0 0 0 0 30
Batch 14 (2016) 45 38 8 0 0 0 0 0 30

a The total includes species assessed for the first time, species being reassessed and previously assessed species that have been split into more than one designatable unit.

b The total listed as “Added to Schedule 1” may not add up to the number of species included on Schedule 1 (518) because it does not account for species that were subsequently split into more than one designatable unit with no corresponding change in status and were therefore treated as status confirmations or were subsequently removed from the list.

c One species was referred back and subsequently not listed. It is counted under “not listed.”

d Includes four wildlife species that were not listed for further consideration from Batch 1 and reconsidered in
Batch 2, and five additional wildlife species when one designatable unit received by COSEWIC was split into six for listing.

e Includes five wildlife species in Batch 1 that were referred to COSEWIC and resubmitted by COSEWIC with the original assessments.

3.5 SARA Schedule 1 current status

When SARA was proclaimed in June 2003, Schedule 1 included 233 species. Starting in 2005, species have been added to the list every year, except in 2008, 2015 and 2016. As of December 31, 2016, Schedule 1 listed 23 extirpated species, 241 endangered species, 127 threatened species and 130 species of special concern, for a total of 521 species.

Tables 3 and 4 show the number of species added to Schedule 1 each year, by risk status and government department/agency, respectively.

Table 3: Numbers of species added to Schedule 1 each year by risk status (as of December 2016)
Year Risk status: extirpated Risk status: endangered Risk status: threatened Risk status: special Concern Total
June 2003
(proclamation)
17 107 67 42
233
2005 4 47 30 31 112
2006 0 18 14 12 44
2007 0 20 5 11 36
2008 0 0 0 0 0
2009 0 8 3 11 22
2010 0 11a 8 4 23f
2011 2 7 4 10 23
2012 0 11 2 5 18
2013 0 4 2 1 7
2014 0 3 0
0 3
2015 0 0 0 0 0
2016 0 0 0 0 0
Total 23 236 135 127 521g

f  The Eastern Foxsnake was split into two populations. The new populations inherited the species’ status on Schedule 1 of SARA before it was split, and both new populations were uplisted in 2010. For the purpose of this table, one of the new Eastern Foxsnake populations was treated as an addition to Schedule 1.

g Although the total number of listed species (521) is correct, the total listed as endangered, threatened and special concern is slightly different because the values presented in this table do not reflect status changes (i.e., uplisting or downlisting of a species).

Table 4: Number of species listed on Schedule 1 by department/agency responsible for recovery planning (as of December 2016)
Taxon Environment and Climate Change Canada Fisheries and Oceans Canada Parks Canada Agency Total
Terrestrial mammals 30 - 4 34
Aquatic mammals - 22 - 22
Birds 70 - 3 73
Reptiles 34 1 5 40
Amphibians 20 - 1 21
Fishes - 69 - 69
Molluscs 5
19 2 26
Arthropods 33 - 4 37
Plants 122 - 52 174
Lichens 9 - 1 10
Mosses 11 - 1 15
Total 334 111 76 521

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