2017 Amendment to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (migratory birds)

A review of the potential environmental impacts from amendments to the list of species at risk under the Species at Risk Act published in the Canada Gazette.

This order amending Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (the Order) helps protect 10 migratory bird species at risk by adding them or by updating their designation on the list of species at risk, and by removing 1 migratory bird species that is no longer at risk. The objective of the Order is to protect species so they can recover.

Protecting species at risk in Canada helps to maintain biodiversity. Ecosystem function and services, such as natural pest control, pollination, temperature regulation and carbon fixing, can also be maintained by protecting species at risk. Ecosystem functions and services in turn are important to the health of Canadians and have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes in an ecosystem can result in the loss of individuals and species, which can lead to irreversible and wide-ranging effects.

The Order supports the following 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals:

  • Healthy wildlife populations: by providing protection for species at risk
  • Effective action on climate change: by supporting conservation, since many ecosystems play a key role in mitigating the impacts of climate change

It will also support the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concerning SDG 15 Life on land and SDG 13 Climate action.

We should strive to further develop those paragraphs to speak of how updating the species list contribute to those FSDS goals.

Table 1: Modifications to Schedule 1 of SARA

Species being added to Schedule 1 of SARA

Legal Population Name Scientific Name Previous Status New Status Range
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia None Threatened Canada-wide
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica None Threatened Canada-wide
Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus None Threatened All provinces
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna None Threatened Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
Eastern Wood-pewee Contopus virens None Special concern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia
Grasshopper Sparrow pratensis subspecies Ammodramus savannarum pratensis None Special concern Ontario, Quebec
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis None Special concern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina None Threatened Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

Species being reclassified in Schedule 1 of SARA

Legal Population Name Scientific Name Previous Status New Status Range
Cerulean Warbler Setophaga cerulea Special concern Endangered Ontario, Quebec
Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies Icteria virens virens Special concern Endangered Ontario

Species being removed from Schedule 1 of SARA

Legal Population Name Scientific Name Previous Status New Status Range
Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrinaa Threatened Not at risk Ontario

a: The species’ scientific name was recently changed to Setophaga citrina. The species is currently listed on Schedule 1 of SARA under its previous scientific name, Wilsonia citrina.

The economic impacts of making these modifications have been assessed and it was determined that they will have a low socio-economic impact (see Regulatory Analysis Impact Statement).

More information

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) provides protections to species at risk by:

  • preventing wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct
  • providing for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened
  • responding to the advice of scientists

Species can be added to the list of species at risk (Schedule 1 of SARA) under various designations. This depends on the severity of the risk of disappearance from the wild in Canada. Following listing, species designated as endangered, threatened or extirpated benefit from SARA’s general prohibitions, which include protections against the killing, harming or harassing and against damaging or destroying their residences (i.e. nests, burrows, etc.). SARA also requires recovery planning efforts to address threats to the survival or recovery of the listed species.

A special concern status in Schedule 1 of SARA does not trigger the general prohibitions, but a management plan is developed. This includes conservation measures to preserve the wildlife species and avoid a future decline of its populations.

Species are reassessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) every 10 years, which is one of the ways to monitor the health of the species. Monitoring will also be done through the recovery plans or management plans. These are developed for the species and reassessed every 5 years.

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