Mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) recovery strategy

Official title: Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus) Recovery Strategy for the Mountain Plover

Table of contents

Species at Risk Act

Recovery Strategy Series

(Charadrius montanus) in Canada

Mountain Plover


Mountain Plover

October 2006

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act(SARA)? 

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003, and one of its purposes is “to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.” 

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation,recoveryis the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be consideredrecoveredwhen its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA ( outline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more 

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA PublicRegistry ( the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat ( 

Recovery Strategy for the Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus )

in Canada 

 October 2006


© Judie Shore

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2006. Recovery Strategy for the Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus) in Canada.Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iv + 16 pp.

Additional copies:

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry (

Cover illustration:Judie Shore

Également disponible en français sous le titre

« Programme de rétablissement du Pluvier montagnard (Charadrius montanus) au Canada»

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2006. All rights reserved.


Cat. no. En3-4/8-2006E-PDF

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


This recovery strategy has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions responsible for the Mountain Plover. Environment Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its recovery strategy for the Mountain Plover, as required under the Species at Risk Act. This recovery strategy also constitutes advice to other jurisdictions and organizations that may be involved in recovering the species.

The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on the best existing knowledge and are subject to modifications resulting from new findings and revised objectives.

This recovery strategy will be the basis for one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation and recovery of the species. The Minister of the Environment will report on progress within five years.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of the Environment invites all responsible jurisdictions and Canadians to join Environment Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Mountain Plover and Canadian society as a whole.


Environment Canada (Prairie and Northern Region)

Government of Alberta

Government of Saskatchewan


This recovery strategy was prepared by Renee Franken, Ray Poulin, and Richard Knapton (Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region).


Comments and advice were generously provided by Dave Duncan (Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region), Geoff Holroyd (Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region), Dave Prescott (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development), Sue McAdam (Saskatchewan Environment), and Walter Willms (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada). Thanks also to Canadian Wildlife Service, Habitat Conservation Section for their advice and Canadian Wildlife Service, Recovery Section for their advice and efforts in preparing this document for posting.


A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with theCabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.

This recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Mountain Plover. The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects. The reader should refer to the following sections of the document: 1.3 Species’ Needs; 2.4 Research and Management Activities; and 2.6 Effects on Other Species.


SARA defines residence as: a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating [Subsection 2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry:


The Mountain Plover is a migratory bird protected under theMigratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and is under the management jurisdiction of the federal government. The Mountain Plover was listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in June 2003. SARA (Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species. The Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie and Northern Region, Environment Canada, led the development of this recovery strategy, in cooperation and consultation with Saskatchewan Environment, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, the Parks Canada Agency, and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. The strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39–41).


·         Mountain Plovers are medium-sized shorebirds that lack the distinctive neckbands typical of many other plovers. In Canada, they are at the northern periphery of their range and are restricted to extreme southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. In Canada, reports are localized and irregular, with only 44 observations recorded since 1874.

·         Mountain Plovers breed in areas of short or intensively grazed vegetation, bare ground, recently burned grasslands, and flat topography.

·         Market hunting prior to the 1900s and loss of habitat due to cultivation were probably the primary reasons for the initial decline of the Mountain Plover in North America. There are a number of factors that may threaten Mountain Plovers, including habitat alteration, range management practices, human disturbance, changes in precipitation patterns, and pesticides.

·         The recovery goal for the Mountain Plover is to maintain its recent abundance and distribution in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. A more quantitative goal is precluded by the paucity of information on Mountain Plover abundance.

·        Whether the Mountain Plover will ever have a viable and self-sustaining population in Canada is unknown; nevertheless, it is possible to increase the likelihood of this species persisting in Canada by maintaining the habitat that supports the small and possibly sporadic occurrences of the species.

·        Owing to a lack of information, critical habitat is not identified in this recovery strategy.

·         The two main objectives to meet the recovery goal are 1) to conserve significant habitat areas through stewardship and conservation agreements; and 2) to increase awareness of Mountain Plovers, their needs, their status, and threats to their survival.

·         A variety of research and management activities will be necessary to meet these objectives, including monitoring the number of breeding pairs and their distribution, identifying areas of critical habitat, developing management strategies, and developing a communication and education program.

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