by Nadine Pinnell, Cara Lachmuth, and Doug Sandilands

The following is an outline of the route to a legal listing under Canada’s Species At Risk Act.

1. COSEWIC, (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) assesses the biological status of a species deemed to be in some danger of disappearing from Canada, using the best available information on the biological status of the species. It reviews research, considers community and Aboriginal traditional knowledge, and applies strict assessment criteria established by COSEWIC and based on criteria developed by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

2. COSEWIC sends its assessment of the species to the federal Minister of the Environment. The assessment and the reasons for it are also posted in the SARA Public Registry.

3. The Minister of the Environment has 90 days to publish, in the SARA Public Registry, a report on how the Minister intends to respond to the COSEWIC assessment and, to the extent possible, provide time lines for action.

4. The Minister of the Envirnoment forwards COSEWIC assessments to the Governor in Council (i.e., Parliament).

5. Within nine months of receiving the COSEWIC assessment, the Governor in Council must decide whether or not to add the species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Or, it can ask COSEWIC for more information.

6. If the Governor in Council does not make a decision within nine months of receiving the COSEWIC assessment, the species is added by order to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, according to the COSEWIC

COSEWIC terms and designations:

Species: Any indigenous species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of wild fauna and flora.

Extinct: A species that no longer exists.

Extirpated: A species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.

Endangered: A species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

Threatened: A species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.

Special Concern: A species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Data Deficient: A species for which there is insufficient scientific information to support status designation.