Threats classification and assessment calculator for COSEWIC status reports

Approved by COSEWIC November 2015

As approved by COSEWIC at the November 2012 COSEWIC Wildlife Species Assessment Meeting, a threats classification and assessment calculator (hereby referred to as "threats calculator") should be included in every COSEWIC status report, whether it be a new status report or an update status report, and for each of the proposed designatable units. For status appraisal summaries, a threats calculator should only be completed if deemed necessary by the Co-chair (consultation with SSC members and relevant jurisdictions may be required).

The threats calculator discussion is best conducted via teleconference and should be facilitated by someone who has a good understanding of COSEWIC's "Guidance for Completing the Threats Classification and Assessment Calculator and Determining the Number of Locations", which is a separate COSEWIC reference document. Each designatable unit with a unique set of jurisdictions should have its own teleconference. A list of the trained COSEWIC members who have agreed to lead threats calculator call is available at the Secretariat. Co-chairs can also act as facilitators if they so choose.

Facilitator role

The roles and responsibilities of the Threats Calculator facilitator include the following:

  • Guide the discussion by going through each of the threat categories listed in the threats calculator spreadsheet.
  • Get familiarized with the threats affecting the species before the teleconference call by either consulting the latest version of the species' status report, a recovery document, a previous status report (if the draft report is not yet finalized) or a preliminary list of threats submitted by the status report writer before the threats calculator discussion.
  • Fill out the threats calculator spreadsheet during the discussion and insert comments where relevant (the filling out of the comments section can be delegated to the SSC Co-chair, Secretariat Science officer or status report writer).
  • Send the final spreadsheet to the Co-chair and Secretariat Science Officer for finalization after the discussion.


The threats calculator discussion should ideally be held either:

  • During the draft 3-month review period so that participants have a copy of the draft report in hand. It should be noted that participants are not expected to have read/reviewed the status report it its entirety because the discussion will deal with the threats section only; OR
  • Directly after the draft 3-month review period so that participants will have read the report.


The following people should always be invited to attend the threats calculator assessment discussion (see NOTE below). They are not obligated to attend, but should be made aware of the opportunity to provide input. Participants should ideally be given a minimum of 3 weeks' notice before a threats calculator teleconference is scheduled.

  • Threats calculator facilitator
  • SSC Co-chair responsible for the report (if not acting as the facilitator)
  • Other SSC Co-chair from the responsible SSC
  • Secretariat Science Officer
  • Status report writer(s)
  • Relevant federal/provincial/territorial jurisdictions (jurisdictional members are responsible for forwarding the invitation to relevant jurisdictional biologists and notifying the Co-chair and Secretariat Science Officer of their attendance).
  • ATK Subcommittee Co-chairs
  • Relevant WMBs corresponding to the range of the species
  • Other key experts of the species threats/habitat (this can often be obtained by asking the status report writer for a list of experts.
    (Note that it is preferable to keep number of external experts to a small number to ensure the number of participants is reasonable).

Science Officer support

  • Asking the status report writer to provide a list of key experts that have knowledge of the species' threats or habitat (Note that it is important at this stage for the report writers/experts/co-chairs/jurisdictions to identify those that are essential for the call so that the Science Officer can arrange the call based on this availability).
  • Choosing a threats calculator facilitator and asking the facilitator, report writer and co-chair to provide a series of potential dates and times for the call.
  • Sending the invitation to participants with teleconference information and documentation (i.e., the most recent status report for review, COSEWIC reference document for completing the threats calculator etc.).
  • Sending the final spreadsheet to the participants that were on the call. This can also include those that were invited but could not attend the call.
  • Include the Excel file delivered by the Co-chair in review emails with a statement that all changes to the spreadsheet require Co-chair approval.
  • Incorporating the Excel file into the status report Word document at the 2-month stage in an editable format.

Status report writer role:

The threats calculator is considered part of the status report writer's search for the best available information. Status report writers will be directed to Instructions for Preparation of COSEWIC Status Reports which includes instructions on how to prepare and incorporate the results from the threats calculator teleconference. Each threats calculator teleconference will last approximately 2 hours and its requirement will be included when undertaking contract negotiations with the selected status report writer.

The role of the status report writer can include:

  • Before a threats calculator discussion is initiated, the status report writer should verify with the relevant Conservation Data Centers (CDC), recovery team or recovery coordinator to ensure that one has not already been completed or is being planned. If one has been completed recently, that version may be used in the status report (to be determined by the Co-chair), or efforts can be combined with COSEWIC.
  • Prepare a DRAFT threats calculator worksheet prior to the teleconference. At a minimum, prepare a list of threats affecting the species by writing a note in the comments section of the worksheet for each threat that could possibly affect the species (this will help guide the participants to the sections that require priority in discussions).
  • Provide a list of experts to the Secretariat that should be invited to the Threats Calculator teleconference. Communicate if there is a species' expert or people with input on habitat or threats that are key to the teleconference, recognizing that all invited participants will have the opportunity to comment on the worksheet after the call.

Review periods and publication

Once a threats calculator spreadsheet has been prepared, it must be circulated for review along with the COSEWIC status report. The ideal format for the review periods is an Excel spreadsheet as this provides the reviewers with the options that are available in the drop-down boxes.

At the 2-month interim report stage, the threats calculator worksheet must then be embedded into the status report Word document as an appendix to be published in the report. The entire worksheet, including who was involved in the threats assessment, should be included. Empty rows can be removed (for each sub-section as well) to save space. As with all figures, this table cannot be an image file and must be in editable format. The Science Officers can assist with formatting the threats calculator at the 2-month and final report stage if needed.

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, 14th floor
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3


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