Species at Risk Act annual report for 2017: chapter 3

3. Listing of species at risk

3.1 Listing process

The listing process refers to the addition to or the removal of a species from the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, Schedule 1 of the Act. Species are listed as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern.

Once the Minister of the Environment receives the COSEWIC assessment, she has 90 days to post a response statement on the Species at Risk Public Registry indicating how the she intends on responding to each assessment and, if 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.

The Act establishes Schedule 1 as the official list of wildlife species at risk, which triggers the provisions under the Act. All of the species that COSEWIC assessed as being at risk prior to October 1999,were included at proclamation on SARA’s Schedule 2 (endangered and threatened) and Schedule 3 (special concern). These species are being reassessed by COSEWIC using current criteria as part of the process to determine if they should be added to Schedule 1. All Schedule 2 species have since been reassessed by COSEWIC. For Schedule 3, five species remained to be reassessed at the end of 2017.

Prior to undertaking public consultations and socio-economic analyses DFO develops science advice in the form of a Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) for aquatic species that have been assessed by COSEWIC as threatened, endangered or extirpated. The scientific information in an RPA includes, as an example, species status, threats and limiting factors to the survival and recovery of the species, recovery targets, and feasibility of recovery in given scenarios. The RPA informs the development of advice to the Minister of DFO regarding the listing of aquatic species under SARA and is used when analyzing the socio-economic impacts and during subsequent consultations. The RPA also provides advice needed to meet other requirements of the Act, including recovery planning and permitting decisions. In 2017, DFO held three Recovery Potential Assessments peer review meetings for: Little Quarry Lake Benthic and Limnetic Stickleback, Short Face Lanx, and Sakinaw Sockeye. In 2017, the department also published three documents associated with Recovery Potential Assessments.

Figure 1 outlines the species listing process under 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 Environment and Climate Change 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 Environment and Climate Change.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change forwards the assessment to the Governor in Council for receipt. This generally occurs within twelve months of posting the response statement, unless further consultation is necessary.

Within nine months of receiving the assessment, the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, may decide whether or not to list the species under Schedule 1of SARA or refer the assessment back 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 2017, the Minister of the Environment received the assessments for 73 species in Batch 15 from COSEWIC. Of these assessments, 33 terrestrial and 23 aquatic wildlife were species at risk, which the Minister provided response statements in January 2018. The response statements (full list included in Table 2) indicate the type of consultation that will be undertaken.

  • for 17 terrestrial and 11 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 seven 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 12 terrestrial and five aquatic wildlife species already listed on Schedule 1, COSEWIC’s assessments confirmed the current status, and no changes to Schedule 1 are required

Eight of the terrestrial species and six of the aquatic species are already listed on Schedule 1 and are eligible to have their status changed: five to a higher risk category (uplist) and 9 to a lower risk category (downlist). One of the down-listed species, the Sonora Skipper, is being considered for removal from the list, as it was found to be not at risk in its latest assessment.

Species are grouped by the type of consultation that the departments will undertake.

Table 1a: List of species for which assessments and risk status were received from COSEWIC in October 2017 for normal consultation
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Endangered Lichens Golden-eye Lichen (Great Lakes population) Teloschistes chrysophthalmus
Endangered Molluscs Eastern Banded Tigersnail Anguispira kochi kochi
Threatened Birds Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys
Threatened Fishes (freshwater) Pygmy Whitefish (Great Lakes - Upper
St. Lawrence populations)
Prosopium coulterii
Special Concern Arthropods Magdalen Islands Grasshopper Melanoplus madeleineae
Special Concern Arthropods Transverse Lady Beetle Coccinella transversoguttata
Special Concern Birds Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus
Special Concern Birds Harris's Sparrow Zonotrichia querula
Special Concern Lichens Golden-eye Lichen (Prairie / Boreal population) Teloschistes chrysophthalmus
Special Concern Reptiles Bullsnake Pituophis catenifer sayi
Special Concern Vascular Plants Long's Bulrush Scirpus longii
Special Concern Fishes (freshwater) Deepwater Sculpin (Waterton Lake population)a Myoxocephalus thompsonii
Special Concern Fishes (freshwater) Lake Sturgeon (Southern Hudson Bay - James Bay populations) Acipenser fulvescens
Special Concern Fishes (freshwater) Pygmy Whitefish
(Waterton Lake population)a
Prosopium coulterii
↑ From Threatened to Endangered Birds Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus
↑ From Threatened to Endangered Reptiles Blanding's Turtle
(Great Lakes / St. Lawrence population)
Emydoidea blandingii
↑ From Threatened to Endangered Fishes (freshwater) Channel Darter
(Lake Erie populations)b
Percina copelandi
↑ From Threatened to Endangered Fishes (freshwater) Channel Darter
(Lake Ontario populations)b
Percina copelandi
↓ From Endangered to Threatened Reptiles Western Painted Turtle (Pacific Coast population) Chrysemys picta bellii
↓ From Endangered to Threatened Vascular Plants Spotted Wintergreen Chimaphila maculata
↓  From Threatened to Special Concern Vascular Plants Anticosti Aster Symphyotrichum anticostense
↓ From Endangered to Special Concern Mosses Rusty Cord-moss Entosthodon rubiginosus
↓ From Special Concern to Not at Risk Arthropods Sonora Skipper Polites sonora
↓ From Endangered to Special Concern Molluscs Eastern Pondmussel Ligumia nasuta
↓  From Threatened to Special Concern Molluscs Mapleleaf
(Great Lakes - Upper
St. Lawrence population)
Quadrula quadrula
↓  From Threatened to Special Concern Fishes (freshwater) Channel Darter
(St. Lawrence populations)b
Percina copelandi

a Parks Canada Agency is competent minister but Department of Fisheries and Oceans will do the consultations.

b Currently listed on Schedule 1 of SARA as Channel Darter.

↓ risk status downgraded
↑ risk status upgraded

Table 1b: List of species for which assessments and risk status were received from COSEWIC in October 2017 for extended consultation
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Endangered >Mammals Caribou (Eastern Migratory population) Rangifer tarandus
Endangered >Mammals Caribou (Torngat Mountains population) Rangifer tarandus
Endangered >Fishes (freshwater) Lake Sturgeon (Saskatchewan - Nelson River populations) Acipenser fulvescens
Endangered >Fishes (freshwater) Lake Sturgeon (Western Hudson Bay populations) Acipenser fulvescens
Endangered >Fishes (marine) Chinook Salmon (Okanagan population) Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Threatened >Fishes (freshwater) Lake Sturgeon (Great Lakes - Upper
St. Lawrence populations)
Acipenser fulvescens
Threatened >Fishes (marine) Coho Salmon
(Interior Fraser population)
Oncorhynchus kisutch
Threatened >Mammals Caribou
(Barren-ground population)
Rangifer tarandus
Special Concern Mammals (marine) Atlantic Walrus (Central / Low Arctic population) Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus
Special Concern Mammals (marine) Atlantic Walrus
(High Arctic population)
Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus
↑ From Special Concern to Endangered Arthropods Monarch Danaus plexippus

↑ risk status upgraded

Table 1c: List of species for which assessments and risk status were received from COSEWIC in October 2017 with status confirmed - no consultation required
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Endangered Arthropods Gold-edged Gem Schinia avemensis
Endangered Birds Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia
Endangered Birds Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea
Endangered Mammals Ord's Kangaroo Rat Dipodomys ordii
Endangered Mosses Nugget Moss Microbryum vlassovii
Endangered Reptiles Blanding's Turtle
(Nova Scotia population)
Emydoidea blandingii
Endangered Vascular Plants Butternut Juglans cinerea
Endangered Vascular Plants Western Prairie Fringed Orchid Platanthera praeclara
Endangered Fishes (freshwater) Shortnose Cisco Coregonus reighardi
Endangered Fishes (freshwater) Speckled Dace Rhinichthys osculus
Threatened Fishes (freshwater) Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Saskatchewan -
Nelson Rivers populations)
Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi
Special concern Fishes (freshwater) Deepwater Sculpin (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations) Myoxocephalus thompsonii
Special concern Fishes (freshwater) Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Pacific populations) Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi
Special Concern Birds Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus
Special Concern Mammals Nuttall's Cottontail nuttallii subspecies Sylvilagus nuttallii nuttallii
Special Concern Reptiles Western Painted Turtle (Intermountain - Rocky Mountain population) Chrysemys picta bellii
Special Concern Vascular Plants American Hart's-tongue Fern Asplenium scolopendrium var. Americanum
Table 1d: List of species for which assessments and risk status were received from COSEWIC in October 2017 with no regulatory impact – no consultations required (DFO)
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
↓ From Endangered to Threatened Molluscs Mapleleaf (Saskatchewan – Nelson Rivers population) Quadrula quadrula

↓ risk status downgraded

Table 1e: List of species for which assessments and risk status were received from COSEWIC in October 2017 and referred back to COSEWIC – no consultations required
COSEWIC risk status Taxon English legal name Scientific name
Special Concern Fishes (marine) Shortfin Mako (Atlantic population) Isurus oxyrinchus

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 2017, ECCC carried out consultations for 24 terrestrial species for which status assessments had been received from COSEWIC as part of Batch 13. The document titled “Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – January 2017” was posted on the species at risk public registry.

In 2017, DFO consulted Canadians on the possible listing on Schedule 1 of seven aquatic species. DFO sent 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.

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.

In 2017, final listing decisions were made for 44 terrestrial species and 15 aquatic species. There were five orders amending Schedule 1 of SARA published in 2017. Of the 59 terrestrial and aquatic species included in these orders: 35 species were newly added to Schedule 1; 16 were reclassifications; two species were removed; one was referred back to COSEWIC for reassessment; 3 were the subject of changes to their recognized designatable units; and two were the subject of ‘do no list’ decisions.

Additionally, two proposed orders on whether or not to amend Schedule 1 of SARA according to the COSEWIC assessments for 45 species on Schedule 1 were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 30-day public comment period. The comments received will inform final listing decisions for these species. In June 2017, 32 terrestrial species were proposed for addition or reclassification to Schedule 1 of SARA. In November 2017, an additional 13 terrestrial species were proposed for addition or reclassification to Schedule 1 of SARA. Final decisions for these 45 species are expected in 2018.

Table 2: Listing processes for species at risk at year-end 2017 (Batches 1 to 15)
Batch and year of Minister’s receipt Total number of species assessedc Assessed as at risk Confirmation of current status Added to Schedule 1d Uplisted (to a higher risk category)e Downlisted (to a lower risk category)e Not listed Referred back Listing decision pending
(Proclamation) - 233 - 233 - - - - -
Batch 1 (2004) 115 95 4 75 0 0 8f 8f 0
Batch 2 (2004) 59 51 (+9g) 0 46 0 0 13 1 0
Batch 3 (2005) 73 59 4 44 0 0 6 1 4
Batch 4 (2006) 68 (+5h) 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 19
3 1 0 0 6
Batch 8 (2010) 79 78 34 15 3
5 3 0 18
Batch 9 (2011) 92 81 31 11 4 5 0 3 27
Batch 10 (2012) 64 57 28 8 3 6 0 0 12
Emergency Assessment (2012) 3 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
Batch 11 (2013) 73 67 32 3 0 0 0 0 32
Batch 12 (2014) 56 56 23 2 0 0 0 0 31
Batch 13 (2015) 56 54 24 0 0 0 0 0 30
Batch 14 (2016) 45 38 8 0 0 0 0 0 30
Batch 15 (2017) 73 56 18 0 0 0 0 1 38

c 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.

d The total listed as “Added to Schedule 1” may not add up to the number of species included on Schedule 1 (555) 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.

e The totals listed as “Uplisted (to a higher risk category)” and “Downlisted (to a lower risk category)” also account for species that were subsequently split into more than one designatable unit with a corresponding change in status and were therefore treated as reclassifications (“uplisted” or “downlisted”). In addition, removals from Schedule 1 are counted here as “downlisted”.

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

g 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.

h 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, 2017, Schedule 1 listed 24 extirpated species, 253 endangered species, 131 threatened species and 147 species of special concern, for a total of 555 species.

Table 3: Numbers of species added to Schedule 1 each year by risk status (as of December 2017)
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 11i 8 4 23i
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
2017 1 18 15
20 54
Total 24 253 131 147 555j

i 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.

j Although the total number of listed species (555) 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 2017)
Taxon Environment and Climate Change Canada Fisheries and Oceans Canada Parks Canada Agency Total
Terrestrial mammals 31 - 4 35
Aquatic mammals - 24 - 24
Birds 81 - 3 84
Reptiles 37 3 5 45
Amphibians 20 - 1 21
Fishes - 73 - 73
Molluscs 5
20 2 27
Arthropods 44 - 4 48
Plants 154 - 52 206
Lichens 13 - 1 14
Mosses 14 - 4 18
Total 399 120 76 595

Success story
Restoring ecosystems and species in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Sidney Island in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve protects rare coastal sand ecosystems, where marine and land environments meet. These habitats are typically kept open and ever-changing because of frequent disturbance from wind and waves. In recent years, non-native invasive plants such as Scotch broom and European beach grass have been moving in and stabilizing the shifting sands. This change is threatening the ecosystem and the survival of several rare species which depend on an open sand habitat, including the common nighthawk, the silky beach pea, and the contorted-pod evening-primrose.

To protect species at risk in the coastal sand ecosystem, Parks Canada is taking practical measures to save this ecosystem and these species. Their approach includes:

  • Removing priority invasive plant species, including Scotch broom and European beach grass, from the rare coastal sand ecosystem on Sidney Spit.
  • Increasing rare plant populations by sowing nursery-grown seed onto prepared habitat.
  • Installing fencing and signage to improve site protection and enhance visitor facilities and learning opportunities.
  • Fostering engagement with volunteers and partners to contribute to the project; collaborating with other organizations in the region involved in coastal sand ecosystem restoration.

Accomplishments

  • Removed 99% of invasive shrubs
  • Removed 55% of beach grass
  • Grew 30,000 new endangered contorted-pod evening-primrose
  • Published new interpretive signage
  • 241 new volunteers, who contributed more than 1,500 hours.
Photos: Common Nighthawk by Pippi Lawn; Surveying Contorted-pod Evening Primrose by Nicole Paleczny
Photos: Common Nighthawk by Pippi Lawn; Surveying Contorted-pod Evening Primrose by Nicole Paleczny
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