Species At Risk

Endangered Species Act: In Plain Language

Overview of the Endangered Species Act, 2007

The Bill deals with the protection and recovery of species at risk in Ontario. It replaces the existing Endangered Species Act, R.S.O. 1990.


Introduction

The purposes of the Bill are:

To identify species at risk based on the best available scientific information, including information obtained from community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge.

To protect species that are at risk and their habitats, and to promote the recovery of species that are at risk.


Classification of Species

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) is continued. Its members must be persons who have relevant expertise drawn from a scientific discipline or aboriginal traditional knowledge. COSSARO is required to assess and classify species and to report the classifications to the responsible Minister. The Bill sets out rules for classifying species as extinct, extirpated, endangered, threatened or special concern species.

Classifications must be based on the best available scientific information, including information obtained from community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge.

A designated Ministry official is required to make and file a regulation (referred to in the Bill as the Species at Risk in Ontario List) that lists all the species that are classified by COSSARO as extirpated, endangered, threatened or special concern species. When new information is reported to the Minister by COSSARO, the Ministry official must amend the regulation to accurately reflect the new information. As a transitional matter, the first regulation made by the Ministry official must include certain species that were classified before the new Species at Risk in Ontario List comes into existence.


Protection and Recovery of Species

If a species is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an extirpated, endangered or threatened species, the Bill prohibits killing, harming, harassing, capturing, taking, possessing, collecting, buying, selling, leasing, trading or offering to buy, sell, lease or trade a member of the species. Some of these prohibitions also apply to parts of a member of the species, and to things derived from a member of the species.

If a species is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an endangered or threatened species, the Bill prohibits damaging or destroying the habitat of the species. This prohibition also applies to an extirpated species if the species is prescribed by the regulations. The regulations may specifically prescribe an area as the habitat of a species but, if no habitat regulation is in force with respect to a species, “habitat” is defined to mean an area on which the species depends, directly or indirectly, to carry on its life processes. With respect to certain species that were classified before first reading of the Bill, the prohibition on damaging or destroying habitat does not apply until the earlier of the date a regulation prescribing the habitat of the species comes into force and the fifth anniversary of the date the requirement to establish the Species at Risk in Ontario List comes into existence.

The Minister is required to ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for each species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an endangered or threatened species. Time limits are specified, subject to the Minister's ability to give notice that additional time is required. The Minister is also required to ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an extirpated species, if the Minister is of the opinion that the reintroduction of the species into Ontario is feasible. If a recovery strategy is prepared, the Minister must publish a statement that summarizes the actions that the Government of Ontario intends to take in response to the recovery strategy and the Government's priorities with respect to taking those actions. The Minister is also required to ensure that a management plan is prepared for each species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as a special concern species, unless a recovery strategy or management plan is required to be prepared for the species under the Species at Risk Act (Canada).

Ontario Laws and Policy that Protect Species at Risk

Our province has a number of regulations in place to help protect species at risk.

Protecting Species at Risk

Enforcement of the Act

Ontario has specially trained conservation officers who enforce the laws that protect our natural resources, including the Endangered Species Act.

Enforcement

How species are deemed at risk

Find out how an independent body called the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) identifies and classifies species at risk.

COSSARO

The Complete Endangered Species Act on E-Laws

You can find an official copy of the act online right now.

e-Laws

Related

Blanding turtle

Endangered Species Act

Learn the basics

Permits

Permits and other authorizations

The Endangered Species Act offers flexibility tools that try to balance species protection and human activity.

Mobile phone

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.