31 changes recommended to Canada’s Species at Risk Act

Canadian officials recommended reclassifying the eastern box turtle as extirpated.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recently evaluated 31 species of plants and animals, and now the Governor in Council is proposing to amend Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act to reclassify several of these species based on the new assessments.

The Species at Risk Act aims to prevent species from becoming extinct or extirpated from Canada and to aid in the recovery of species that are threatened, endangered or extirpated. Schedule 1 of the act is the official list of Species at Risk and currently includes 555 species.

COSEWIC is a nongovernmental independent scientific body created to determine the status of Canadian species and identify potential threats. The committee meets twice a year to review information about different species and assign them to one of seven categories under SARA. Species are uplisted or downlisted according to how they have fared since the last assessment.

Under the new proposal, 17 species would be added to Schedule 1, 11 would be reclassified, one would be removed and another would be split into two distinct population segments. The wildlife species that would be affected are several reptiles, mollusks and arthropods, including the prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), which would be listed as a species of special concern, and the eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina), which would be listed as extirpated.

Read the order and learn more about SARA and COSEWIC in the Canada Gazette.