Find out more about our Species at Risk

Species at Risk

Blue Heron, photo Steve Musial

What Is a Species at Risk?

A species at risk is any naturally occurring animal and/or plant that is in danger of disappearing in the wild.

In 2002 the Government of Canada created the Species at Risk Act (SARA), which is federal legislation that protects wildlife from becoming extirpated or extinct due to human activities. This legislation provides recovery strategies for each species listed under the act, and their habitats and ecosystems.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is the authority behind the Species at Risk Act. This advisory panel uses the best available indigenous knowledge, scientific research and community knowledge to assess the status of these species.

There are 4 levels of classification in which species are listed under the SARA:

  • Species of Special Concern – a wildlife species that may become a threatened or endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
  • Threatened – a wildlife species that is likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.
  • Endangered – a wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
  • Extirpated – a wildlife species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere in the wild.

You can check out the Species at Risk Act on this government site: Justice Laws Website

Provincially, each province has its own classifications or ecosystems and species at risk as well as the SARA. British Columbia’s classifications are the following:

  • Yellow – Any species or ecological communities that are apparently secure and not at risk of extinction. Yellow-listed species may have red- or blue-listed subspecies
  • Blue – Any native species or ecological community considered to be of Special Concern
  • Red – Any species or ecosystem that is at risk of being lost (extirpated, endangered or threatened)

Although, these classifications are simply labels. British Columbia, the province with the highest biodiversity, has not yet introduced its own legislation to protect Species at Risk; which is shocking. We as citizens of the west can take a role in protecting these species, and prevent other species from becoming at risk.

All of your reported observations will be added to our Species at Risk database. All of the data that we collect as a community will be sent to the Conservation Data Centre in Victoria, B.C, to help build up a picture of species abundance and distribution in the province.

We have researched and created profiles of these species at risk on Cortes Island, which can be found in the Species at Risk section of our website (you’re in the right place!). Here on Cortes Island, we have at least 33 different species at risk that live here part of the year or year-round!

The more we learn about these animals and their habitats, the more action we can take as a community in managing and creating habitats for them. This knowledge and how we apply it – is how we can ensure that these species can continue to live here for many generations to come! All of these species have a very important role in the ecosystems here and the future of the island depends upon their presence here!



Join the FOCI family

Become a Friends of Cortes Island member and support the work that we’re doing in the community to help look after our beautiful island.

Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI) is a charitable organization that has been active for over 25 years. Our organization exists to monitor and preserve the health of local ecosystems, and to provide educational programs that foster a greater understanding of the natural environment. Through all of our projects, we work to promote environmental integrity through community responsibility.