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Species at Risk 

A Species at Risk is any naturally-occurring plant or animal in danger of extinction or of disappearing from the province. Once classified as "at risk", they are added to the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List.



There are 2 levels of designation for Species at Risk. They can be listed provincially and/or federally.


The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is a committee of academics, independent specialists, Aboriginal knowledge-holders, government biologists, museum staff and independent experts who act as the authority for assessing the conservation status of wildlife species that may be at risk of extinction in Canada.


The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) is another committee of experts whose role is to review COSEWIC species at risk and classify those that occur in Ontario.



The Endangered Species Act (ESA) 2007 this the provincial legislation dealing with the protection and recovery of Species at Risk and their habitats.

Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA) is a key federal government commitment to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides for the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biological diversity.



There are 5 classifications for species at risk in Ontario:

Extinct (Ext) - a native species that no longer lives anywhere in the world.

Extirpated (Exp) - a native species that no longer exists in the wild in Ontario, but still exist elsewhere.

Endangered (End) -  a native species facing extinction or extirpation.

Threatened (Thr) -  a native species at risk of becoming endangered if steps are not takes to address factors threatening it.

Special Concern (Sc) - a native species that is sensitive to human activities or natural events which may cause it to become endangered or threatened.



Plants and animals may become at risk for many reasons, including:

  • Habitat loss e.g. wetlands filled in, forests cut down, grasslands ploughed and fenced
  • Habitat fragmentation e.g. roads constructed through natural areas, development in sensitive habitat
  • Competition from introduced and/or invasive species
  • Traffic mortality
  • Illegal harvesting (poaching) and/or overhunting
  • Pollution and chemicals
  • Disease
  • Predation


Species at Risk in Muskoka

There are currently 48 Species at Risk in the Muskoka-Parry Sound area.

Which species are at risk in Muskoka?


Protecting Species at Risk

Each of us has an important role to play in the recovery of Species at Risk.

How can you help?