Species At Risk

Enforcing the Endangered Species Act

The Ministry of Natural Resources supports the protection and recovery of species at risk in many ways, including educating people about species and their habitat, supporting people and groups who are taking positive actions to protect species and improve habitat, and enforcing the laws that protect at-risk species and their habitat.

The Endangered Species Act sets out significant penalties for anyone who commits an offence under the act:

  • Fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and $1 million for corporations
  • Up to one year in jail for individuals for a first offence.

Under the act, a person may be ordered to stop an activity that could kill, harm, harass or have another prohibited impact on a protected species, or damage or destroy protected habitat.. Additionally, a person who damages or destroys protected habitat may be ordered to take measures to rehabilitate the habitat.

conduct inspections and searches for the purpose of determining whether an offence has been committed under the act, and the authority to seize things and make arrests.

Conservation Officers’ Role

Conservation Officers help to preserve and protect Ontario's natural resources, through public outreach and education and by encouraging compliance with natural resource-related laws. Conservation Officers play a key role in enforcing the Endangered Species Act and other laws that protect species at risk.

Conservation Officers Talk about Endangered Species

Hart Hill and I’m a Conservation Officer.

My name is Hart Hill and I’m a Conservation Officer. I patrol Grey and Bruce County out of the Owen Sound Area Office. This area is home to a number of species at risk, including Massasauga Rattlesnakes, Spotted Turtles, Piping Plovers, American Ginseng and numerous others.

The Piping Plover is definitely the best known species at risk in this area, as they have nested at Sauble Beach for several years now. In addition to routine patrols of the beach area, I enjoy assisting in the monitoring of the birds’ activities, and speaking to residents and vacationers about the birds; raising awareness and encouraging compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

Hill Hart with species at risk

Conservation Officers in our office attend several community events each year, operating an outreach display to educate the public. These events are excellent opportunities to develop community relations, and encourage support and respect for our natural resources, including species at risk.

I find species protection and enforcement to be a rewarding career. As a Conservation Officer each day brings new challenges, and through outreach and education as well as enforcement patrols and investigations, public awareness can be raised and compliance goals can be achieved. Ontario’s species at risk represent a fragile and essential part of our biodiversity – I am proud to be doing my part to help with the success and protection of these species.


Kent Hodgin and I’m a Conservation Officer

My name is Kent Hodgin and I’m a Conservation Officer. I patrol Northumberland County and work out of the Peterborough Area Office.

Some of the most important work we do regarding the Endangered Species Act is outreach and education.

Many people have never even seen a live creature that is at risk, and once they have an opportunity to get up close and personal with them, they develop a better understanding and appreciation for creatures that need additional protection. Workshops allow the public to ask questions, and learn to understand why we protect and care about the survival of all living species, and what they can do to help.

Kent Hodgin with species at risk

Educating stakeholders about species at risk and answering questions about how the Ministry of Natural Resources administers the legislation is a very proactive approach to enforcement, and can go a long way in developing partnerships and fostering good relationships with user groups who are out on the landscape and have a key role in the protection of vulnerable species.

Which species are protected?
See which plants and animals in your part of the province are endangered and protected by law.

How the Endangered Species Act Works
Read about all the steps Ontario takes to protect species at risk.

Endangered Species Act - Complete Text
Read the full wording of the 2007 law.

Other Laws and Policy that Protect Endangered Species
Read about the many other laws and policies that help protect endangered species.


Blanding turtle

Endangered Species Act

Learn the basics


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.