Table 6. Guidelines on transferring between status categories during a reassessment (based on IUCN 2019)

  1. A taxon may be moved from higher at-risk status category to a lower status category if and when none of the criteria of the higher category has been met for five years or more (i.e., if the taxon has qualified for a lower threat status for at least five years, regardless of when the previous assessment was completed). Thus, the 5-year period commences when the data show that the taxon no longer meets the criteria for the status category in which it is currently listed; this is not necessarily the date of the previous assessment. If it is not possible to identify the year in which the taxon qualified for the lower threat status category, then the current assessment year is used as the start of the 5-year period. However, if the taxon is being moved from as a result of the establishment of a re-introduced population, this period must be five years or until viable offspring are produced, whichever is the longer.

    Additional clarification: This is not intended to drive timing of reassessments, but to provide guidance to be consistent with IUCN Red List assessments. The above guidance serves as an additional way to use the “but” clause where an existing higher category than indicated by applying the criteria is retained because the new lower assessment category is to be met for at least 5 years before COSEWIC changes the assessment of a taxon. Example: Meets threatened A2a but the status of Endangered is retained as the minimum period of 5 years to meet this new lower threshold has not yet elapsed. It is not intended to change the timing of reassessments.

  2. If the original classification is found to have been erroneous, the taxon may be transferred to the appropriate status category or removed from the at-risk categories altogether, without delay. However, in this case, the taxon should be re-evaluated against all the criteria to clarify its status.
  3. Transfer from categories of lower to higher risk should be made without delay.
  4. The reason for a transfer between status categories during the reassessment must be documented with status change codes noted.

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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
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Gatineau QC K1A 0H3


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