COSEWIC wildlife species assessment: determining eligibility for status assessment

Table 1. Determining eligibility of wildlife species for status assessment

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) considers without prejudice all wildlife species as defined by Species at Risk Act (SARA), notwithstanding the extent of their extra-limital range (i.e., the range of the wildlife species outside Canada), subject to the following criteria:

a) Taxonomic validity
COSEWIC would normally only consider species and subspecies or varieties that have been established as valid in published taxonomic works or in peer reviewed communications from taxonomic specialists. COSEWIC would not normally consider other designatable units unless they can be shown to be genetically distinct, separated by a major range disjunction, or biogeographically distinct (refer to Guidelines for Recognizing Designatable Units, Appendix F5), Justification for considering designatable units must be provided.
b) Native wildlife species
COSEWIC would normally only consider native wildlife species. A native wildlife species is a wildlife species that occurs in Canada naturally, or that has expanded its range into Canada without direct human intervention from a region where it naturally occurred, has produced viable populations, and has persisted in Canada for at least 50 years.
As stated in the species at Risk Act, a wildlife species is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, presumed to have been present in Canada for at least 50 years and therefore eligible for assessment.
c) Regularity of occurrence
COSEWIC would normally only consider wildlife species which occur or formerly have occurred regularly in Canada, including regular or seasonal migrants but excluding vagrants.
d) Special cases
Notwithstanding the above guidelines, a taxon may be considered eligible if there are clear conservation reasons for consideration (for example high risk of extinction). In particular, a wildlife species which does not meet the eligibility criteria but which is at risk in its primary range outside of Canada could be considered for designation.
Reasons for considering a special case must be presented and supporting information must be provided; this should normally be reviewed and agreed to by COSEWIC before a status report is prepared.

About us

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is an independent advisory panel to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada that meets twice a year to assess the status of wildlife species at risk of extinction. Members are wildlife biology experts from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector responsible for designating wildlife species in danger of disappearing from Canada.

COSEWIC secretariat

Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd, 16th floor
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Email: ec.cosepac-cosewic.ec@canada.ca