Species At Risk

Do I need a permit?

What activities need a permit?

If a species is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as extirpated, endangered or threatened , the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not allow the following actions related to species at risk:

  • killing
  • harming
  • harassing
  • capturing
  • taking
  • possessing
  • collecting
  • buying
  • selling
  • leasing
  • trading, or
  • offering to buy, sell, lease or trade.

Species at Risk List
Do your homework—find out what’s at risk in your area first.


There are steps you can take steps to reduce the adverse effects your activities have on at-risk plants and animals. Even better, you can often find ways to change how, where and when you carry out your activities so that they help protect species at risk. If you are able to avoid any adverse effects on species at risk or their habitat, you will not need a permit or other authorization under the ESA. Find out how you can plan your activity accordingly.

Some of these restrictions also apply to parts of a member of the species (e.g., fur), and to things derived from a member of the species (e.g., herbal medicines).

If a species is listed as endangered or threatened, the ESA also prohibits damaging or destroying the habitat of the species. The habitat of a particular species may be defined by regulation. If there is no habitat regulation for a particular species, its habitat is defined as an area on which the species depends, directly or indirectly, to carry on its life processes. The habitat of threatened or endangered species listed prior to the current act will be protected on or before June 30, 2013 (Habitat protection). Habitat protection may also apply to an extirpated species if provided for by regulation.

If the activity you are planning to do might affect species at risk then you may need a permit for your activity.

Which ESA permit do I need?

Whether you’re a planner, developer, farmer or anyone else undertaking an activity that may affect species at risk, you’ll want to know whether or not your activity would require an ESA permit, and what conditions you may be subject to.

If your activity may affect species at risk or their habitat in ways that are not allowed under the ESA, and you have already considered options to avoid those effects, but avoidance is not an option, you may need a permit. There are five types of permits available under the act:

Health and Safety

Health or Safety Permit

If your activity is necessary for the protection of human health or safety, you may be eligible for a Health or Safety Permit

Protection and Recovery

Protection or Recovery Permit

If the main purpose of your activity is to help protect or recover a species at risk, you may be eligible for a Protection or Recovery Permit

Social or Economic Benefit to Ontario

Social or Economic Benefit to Ontario Permit

If your activity will result in a significant social or economic benefit to Ontario, you may be eligible for a Social or Economic Benefit to Ontario Permit

Aboriginal permit

Aboriginal Permit

If you are a member of a band (as defined in the Indian Act), a tribal council, or an organization that represents a territorially-based Aboriginal community, you may be eligible for an Aboriginal permit

Overall Benefit

Overall Benefit Permit

If none of the above circumstances apply, an Overall Benefit Permit may be the right permit for you.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.