Which species are assessed
The committee assesses any Ontario species that may be experiencing declines, based on research by Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry staff or reports from other sources. It can also reassess any species already listed as at risk.
The committee must also put on their list for assessment any plant or animal native to Ontario that has been assessed by its national counterpart, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
How species are classified
The committee uses the best available scientific information, including community knowledge and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, to determine whether a plant or animal should be listed as at risk. The committee usually meets twice a year.
When a species is listed at risk, the classification applies throughout Ontario, unless otherwise noted. In some cases, different geographic populations of the same species face different threats, and are classified separately.
See the document outlining the categories and criteria for status assessment used by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO).
Categories of at risk status
The committee classifies the species into categories based on the degree of risk they face.
Species at risk are classified in 1 of 4 categories:
Lives somewhere in the world, and at one time lived in the wild in Ontario, but no longer lives in the wild in Ontario.
Lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.
Lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it.
Lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered or threatened, but may become threatened or endangered due to a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
A species may also be classified by the committee as Not at Risk, if it does not meet the criteria for any of the above categories or, as Data Deficient if there is not enough information to make a decision as to its status.
What happens after a species is assessed
COSSARO submits a report on its work (including the classification of each species assessed) to the Minister on an annual basis. In addition to annual reporting, the committee may submit a report classifying a species to the Minister at any time. The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks must amend the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) list regulation (O. Reg 230/08) three months following the Minister’s receipt of a report from COSSARO. Once the regulation has been changed, the species is protected based on its classification. Please visit the Ontario government website for further information about how species at risk are protected.
Species assessment reports
Species assessments reports are detailed technical documents that contain information such as the population size, and threats. Please note that species assessed prior to December 2013 were classified according to COSSARO’s previous criteria. For further information please contact us at COSSAROSecretariat@ontario.ca.
This searchable table includes the species assessed by COSSARO from 2013 – 2016, including current status, a link to COSSARO’s assessment report, and a link to the Ontario government species page (if applicable).
- – Endangered
- – Threatened
- – Extirpated
- – Special Concern
- – Not at Risk
- – Data Deficient
Report a species sighting
If you observed a species and would like to report it, please visit the how to report a rare species sighting page on Ontario.ca.