• A pair of horned grebe chicks on a pond

    The horned grebe, a North American wetland bird, is one of 11 species listed as at-risk in Canada as of June. (Photo: Heather Mellon/Can Geo Photo Club)

This June saw the addition of eleven species to Canada’s species-at-risk list, a move many consider to be long overdue.

The designations came as a result of assessments done by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), a group of wildlife experts that make recommendations to the federal government regarding species they believe warrant legal protection. The government then has nine months to accept or reject COSEWIC's recommendation. 

The last time a species was added to the at-risk list was in 2010, with the result that there is now a backlog of species awaiting a decision. The horned grebe, a North American wetland bird, was recommended back in 2009, meaning it took nearly seven years for it to officially make the list. 

The majority of the recent listings are categorized as special concern—the lowest level of concern behind threatened, endangered, and extirpated, the latter being the most severe designation before a species is declared extinct. Three species have been categorized as endangered, one as threatened, and the remaining seven as special concern.

A management plan will be created for species listed as special concern, and the development of an in-depth recovery plan will commence for species listed as endangered or threatened.

Species listed as Special Concern:

Collared pika: Found in British Columbia, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, this small rabbit relative is particularly sensitive to climate change.

Baird’s sparrow: A prairie songbird, with the majority of its breeding population found across Canada. The biggest threat to this species is the loss and degradation of its specialized grassland habitat.  

Buff-breasted sandpiper: Found predominantly in Canada’s Arctic, this species is suspected to be declining primarily due to the loss and degradation of its specialized grassland habitat.

Horned grebe: Approximately 92 per cent of the North American breeding range of the horned grebe is in Canada, and they are facing threats due to increasing populations of nest predators and degradation of their wetland breeding habitat.

Dune tachinid fly: These flies are found in the Yukon, and are facing threats due to the decline and destruction of their dune habitats.

Magnum mantleslug: Found in British Columbia, their habitat is being destroyed and fragmented by logging, recreational developments, and wildfires.

Peacock vinyl lichen: Also found in British Columbia, these lichens are very sensitive to air pollution as well as seasonal droughts due to climate change.

Species listed as Threatened:     

Crumpled tarpaper lichen: These lichens appear to be declining in British Columbia as a result of the ongoing loss of old-growth forests through clear-cut logging.

Species listed as Endangered:

Olive clubtail (dragonfly): This dragonfly is found in only five areas of British Columbia, with the main threat being loss and disturbance of habitat and pollution by pesticides and fertilizing nutrients.

Okanagan Efferia (fly): Endemic to Canada and found only in British Columbia, this fly’s grassland habitat is limited and continues to be degraded and lost due to pesticides and invasive species.

Batwing vinyl lichen: Found in British Columbia, this lichen is facing competition from mosses and liverworts and threats from pollution.