2022 Annual Report from the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO)
Read the classifications for 18 species assessed by COSSARO in 2022 to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. This report is posted on behalf of a provincial advisory agency.
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The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) wishes to acknowledge and thank the observers who attended and contributed to the 2022 species assessment meetings. Observers represented First Nations, government offices, companies, industry associations, sporting associations and conservation organizations (listed below in no particular order). The observers’ attendance and interest in the work of COSSARO was helpful and is appreciated.
- Algonquins of Ontario
- Beef Farmers of Ontario
- Birds Canada
- Canadian Renewables Energy Association
- Catchacoma Forest Stewardship Committee
- Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
- Hydro One
- McMillan Vantage Policy Group
- Metis Nation of Ontario
- Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
- Ontario Federation of Agriculture
- Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation
- Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA)
- Ontario Fur Managers Federation
- Ontario Nature
- Species at Risk Program Advisory Committee (SARPAC)
- WWF Canada
We also wish to express our thanks to the following organization who contributed scientific information and community knowledge through a written submission to COSSARO during 2022:
- Ontario Nature
As members on COSSARO, we are grateful to the Hon. David Piccini as the Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) and his team at the MECP that serves as the Secretariat and provides support to COSSARO. We are grateful to the following MECP team members who worked hard to support COSSARO in 2022.
- Jennifer Morton
- Victoria Papuga
- Alison Richmond
- Susan Ecclestone
- Leanne Jennings
- Sarah Parna
- Kathleen Pitt
- Rebecca Teare
- Megan McAndrew
- Eric Snyder
We are also grateful to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) for providing important Ontario species data to COSSARO that enabled our assessments. In particular, we wish to thank Colin Jones (Provincial Zoologist, Invertebrates with the NHIC) who serves as a Province of Ontario member on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In this role he was able to support COSSARO’s access to and understanding of COSEWIC considerations related to species assessments.
The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) is an independent committee of experts which considers which plants and animals should be classified as at risk in Ontario.
The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA)gives the committee legal recognition and specific responsibilities:
- maintaining criteria for assessing and classifying species
- keeping a list of species that should be assessed and classified (or reclassified) in the future
- assessing, reviewing and classifying species
- submitting reports regarding the classification of species and providing advice to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
COSSARO can consist of up to 12 members with expertise in scientific disciplines, community knowledge or Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge. A quorum of eight members is required for voting purposes.
In 2022, COVID‑19 continued to affect COSSARO’s activities. However, the MECP secretariat team and COSSARO members were able to maintain online meetings with observers attending open sessions. Experience of COSSARO members indicate that in-person meetings should return, as the online forum does not provide an ideal platform for discussion among committee members, staff, and the public. COSSARO held two virtual meetings to assess 18 species/populations. Of those 18 species, votes for one species (American White Pelican) were deferred until spring 2023. Voting on the remaining 17 species was completed at the two meetings held on:
- March 30 – April 1, 2022
- November 18 – 19, 2022
Throughout 2022, several COSSARO members were appointed or reappointed for three-year terms: Glenn Cunnington, Allison Featherstone, Shannon Catton, Ian Barrett, Toby Thorne, Darren Sleep, and Jillian deMan.
Summary of status assessments
The table below summarizes the results of the assessments completed on 18 species/populations in 2022. These species are grouped by types of fauna/flora for ease of review. The order is the same used in Attachment 2 to this report.
From the table below, the following observations are offered: one species assessment was deferred to spring of 2023 and six species/populations retained the same status. No species/populations increased in the status level (for example, moved upwards from Special Concern to Threatened). Four species/populations decreased their status from Endangered to Threatened. One species decreased in status to Not at Risk, one species moved from Endangered to Special Concern, and one species moved from Threatened to Special Concern. Four species that were not previously assessed were assigned a status of Special Concern, Threatened or Endangered.
English, French, Indigenous*,
Evaluated status (2022)
|Special Concern||Not at Risk|
Greater Prairie Chicken
American White Pelican
|Threatened||Deferred to Spring 2023|
English, French, Indigenous*,
Evaluated status (2022)
Eastern Sand Darter
Eastern Sand Darter
English, French, Indigenous*,
Evaluated status (2022)
Northern Oak Hairstreak
|Not Listed||Special Concern|
English, French, Indigenous*,
Evaluated status (2022)
English, French, Indigenous*,
Evaluated status (2022)
Incurved Grizzled Moss
Eastern False Rue-anemone
English, French, Indigenous*,
Evaluated status (2022)
- Not Listed means the species had not been formerly assigned a status in Ontario
- All English, French and Indigenous names of species are included in Status Reports, where known. Indigenous names are highlighted with an asterisk and these names are not intended to be inclusive of all cultures and languages. Indigenous names are not based upon western scientific methods.
Summary of 2022 COSSARO meetings and operations
COSSARO, like most agencies and organizations, was affected by COVID‑19 in 2022. The traditional two in-person meetings per year were replaced with two virtual meetings. Each meeting included opportunities for observers to attend.
The following offers a summary of the 2022 meetings.
March 31 – April 1, 2022
Ms. Shannon Catton and Ms. Allison Featherstone were welcomed to their new role as members of COSSARO.
A best practises manual was being assembled to provide references and guidance for members to locate data and identify other government jurisdictions that may have data and resources relevant to COSSARO species evaluations.
Approximately 25 observers from various public and private organizations attended the Spring 2022 meeting.
November 18 – 19, 2022
The Fall 2022 COSSARO meeting did not attract substantial interest from the public. No public presentations were made at this meeting, and there were approximately 5 – 10 observers at each session.
Updates regarding other matters
The website for COSSARO continued to be helpful in keeping Ontario citizens apprised of COSSARO activities. COSSARO members appreciate the MECP team continuously updating and operating the website on behalf of the committee.
COSSARO continues to work with the province to update the 2017 Terms of Reference for the committee. Those updates are in progress.
COSSARO anticipates a return to in-person meetings for 2023. COSSARO members believe that in-person meetings are more constructive for discussing and evaluating species
In addition to species assessments considered at the previous COSEWIC meeting, COSSARO is beginning to complete reassessments for species that have not been considered by COSEWIC in their ongoing assessments. In 2023, these assessments will likely include: Upland Sandpiper, Purple Martin, and West Virginia White.
Other species that may be assessed in 2023 are those which have been subject to the provision of additional and/or new data provided in the form of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and community knowledge. COSSARO is placing an emphasis on ensuring that assessments are based upon “the best available scientific information, including information obtained from community knowledge and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge.”
|Preliminary 2023 meeting dates||Meeting focus|
|April 18 – 20, 2023|
(subject to confirmation)
|Assessment focused on COSEWIC species assessed in November 2022 along with Black Tern and American White Pelican.|
(subject to confirmation)
|Assessment focused on COSEWIC species assessed in Spring 2023|
Species that will be assessed during 2023 are as follows:
April 18 – April 20, 2023 (Subject to confirmation)
- American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)
- Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis)
- Eastern Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus)
- American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
- Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
- Horned Grebe (Western population) (Podiceps auritus)
- Spring Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)
Candidate species for assessment in 2023 and 2024 are as follows:
- Purple Martin (Progne subis)
- Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)
- Wild Rice (Zizania)
- West Virginia White (Pieris virginiensis)
- Schweinitz’s Sedge (Carex schweinitzii)
- Ram’s-head Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium arietinum)
- Ghost Tiger Beetle (Cicindela lepida)
- Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Attachment 1: 2022 COSSARO membership
Ian Barrett, M.Sc.
Senior Biologist, Senior Manager of Environmental Projects Colville Consulting Inc.
Glenn Cunnington, Ph.D.
Project Manager, Integrated Watershed Management Initiatives, District Municipality of Muskoka
Jillian deMan, B.Sc. (Hons.)
Sr. Ecologist, Water & Natural Resources, Environment AECOM
Shannon Catton, M.Sc.
Senior Ecologist and Project Director, GEI Consultants
Tom Hilditch, B.Sc.
President, Colucent Environmental Inc.
Steven Paiero, Ph.D.
*present for Spring 2022 species assessment
Curator, University of Guelph Insect Collection, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph
Allison Featherstone, B.Sc.
Ecologist, Senior Management Team, LGL Limited Environmental Research Associated
Derek Parks, M.Sc.
Director, Sr. Aquatic Specialist, Parks Environmental Inc.
Darren Sleep, Ph.D.
Sr. Director, Conservation Science & Strategies, Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.
Daniel T. Kraus, M.Sc.
Director of National Conservation, National Conservation Program, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
Toby Thorne, M.Sc.
Coordinator, Native Bat Conservation Program, Toronto Zoo
Attachment 2: 2022 species summaries
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Bald Eagle is a well-known bird of prey with a bright white head, neck and tail, and a dark brown body. Its massive beak is bright yellow, as are its powerful legs. Adults have piercing, very pale eyes. Young eagles are mostly brown, variably speckled with white. Bald Eagles have a wingspan of just over two metres. They soar on flattened wings and in silhouette show as much head and neck in front of the wing as there is tail projecting behind.
Bald Eagles nest in a variety of habitats and forest types, almost always near a major lake or river where they do most of their hunting. While fish are their main source of food, Bald Eagles can easily catch prey up to the size of ducks, and frequently feed on dead animals, including White-tailed Deer. They usually nest in large trees such as pines and poplars. During the winter, Bald Eagles sometimes congregate near open water such as the St. Lawrence River, or in places with a high deer population where carcasses might be found.
Bald Eagles are widely distributed throughout North America. In Ontario, they nest throughout the north, with the highest density in the northwest near Lake of the Woods. Historically they were also relatively common in southern Ontario, especially along the shore of Lake Erie, but this population was nearly wiped out 50 years ago by the use of pesticides. After an intensive re-introduction program and environmental clean-up efforts, the species has rebounded and can once again be seen in much of its former southern Ontario range.
Due to the increase in its population, Bald Eagle has been re-classified from Special Concern to Not at Risk in Ontario. This species does not meet criteria to be considered Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern.
Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus)
Greater Prairie-Chicken is a large grouse that was once common in central and eastern North America. It is brown with light and dark barring and has a short-rounded tail. The male also has conspicuous yellow eye combs. During breeding, the male struts about in an elaborate courtship dance in which it erects its wing, neck and tail feathers and releases air from orange air sacs on its neck to produce a loud booming sound.
Greater Prairie-Chicken inhabits large areas of undisturbed grasslands, with few shrubs or trees and dense grass stands and brush cover for overwintering. Clearing of forests was initially a benefit to the Greater Prairie-Chicken, proving additional grassland habitat. However, as land clearing and cultivation expanded, Greater Prairie-Chicken were restricted to smaller and smaller areas. In Ontario, interbreeding with other species of grouse eliminated the Greater Prairie-Chicken in the Manitoulin Island area.
Greater Prairie-Chicken originally occurred in southwestern Ontario. By the end of the 19th century its range had expanded to the east and north, as far as Lake Simcoe. With much of the land within its range cleared for agriculture by 1900, the range subsequently retracted and the population completely disappeared from southern Ontario in the 1920s. Populations from the US also began to expand into suitable habitats in the Sault Ste. Marie area, Manitoulin Island and northwestern Ontario in the early 1900s. These populations initially expanded but then declined. It was gone from the northwest by the 1960s, and from the Sault Ste. Marie area and Manitoulin Island in the 1970s.
In the US, Greater Prairie-Chicken range extends from North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, south to Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, west to Colorado and east to Wisconsin and Illinois. The core of the population is in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Greater Prairie-Chicken is no longer found in Canada and was designated as extirpated in 1978.
Greater Prairie-Chicken no longer occurs in Canada. It was already listed as extirpated when the Endangered Species Act took effect in 2008. Greater Prairie-Chicken is classified as Extirpated from Ontario.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Golden Eagle is a globally distributed large eagle species. It is widespread in western North America where populations are broadly stable. In contrast, populations in eastern North America are smaller and underwent considerable declines in the mid-20th century, primarily due to the use of the pesticide DDT which was banned in 1972, although concerns over other pesticides continue. Golden Eagles are also threatened by lead poisoning, trapping, shooting, disturbance at nest sites, habitat loss, collisions with powerlines, and climate change. The eastern population is believed to have grown in the 1970s through 1990s following the ban of DDT; however, populations have plateaued since 2000 and the number of breeding pairs remains low. Golden Eagles in Ontario include a small number of breeding pairs in Hudson Bay Lowland, and an Ontario migratory population comprised of individuals migrating between overwintering sites in the United States and breeding grounds in Québec and Labrador.
The Golden Eagle is classified as Endangered in Ontario due to its increased extirpation risk resulting from a very small population of fewer than 250 breeding individuals. Although the species faces numerous threats throughout its range, the small Ontario population may also reflect a low carrying capacity for this species in the province. This status differs from the current COSEWIC status of Not at Risk due to the very small population found in Ontario.
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
Bobolink is a medium-sized member of the blackbird family with a short, conical bill. The sexes look different only during the breeding period where the males have a black bill, head, front, undertail-coverts, wing underparts and tail, contrasting sharply with a white rump and scapulars, and a buffy golden-yellow patch on the back of the head. Females resemble large sparrows with light pink bills and mostly buff to brown, somewhat streaked plumage.
Male Bobolink are conspicuous and vocal and frequently found perched on shrubs, tall forbs and fence posts. They are often seen performing their characteristic aerial display flights where they repeatedly flutter up into the air, rising on rapidly vibrating wings and singing their characteristic bubbly songs, before dropping back down (McCracken et al. 2013).
Major threats to the species include habitat loss and degradation due to expansion and intensification of agricultural crops as well as conversion of hayfields and pasture into grain and oilseed crops. Incidental loss of nests to early cutting of hayfields is another major ongoing threat (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Bobolink is classified as Threatened in Ontario because there has been a loss of greater than 30% (36.9%) over the most recent 10-year period (2009–2019) (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Eastern Sand Darter (Ammocrypta pellucida) (Southwestern Population)
Eastern Sand Darter is a small-bodied fish and the only member of the genus Ammocrypta that occurs in Canada and the United States. Its body is translucent, slender, and elongate, and it is a species that burrows in sand and clean gravel in rivers and lakes. It is a short-lived species with a maximum age of four years, and it feeds primarily on benthic invertebrates. This species has a low dispersal ability and thus mobility within a stream system is unlikely as it is a sedentary species (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Recent studies by Ginson et al. (2015, as cited in COSEWIC 2022, in press) revealed distinct genetic variation between drainage systems. These studies indicated genetic discreteness between the Québec population, the West Lake population (Lake Ontario watershed) and the Southwestern Ontario population. As a result, 3 designatable units were identified in Canada, and two occur in Ontario, namely the DU1 Southwestern Ontario population and DU3 West Lake population. DU2 is the third designatable unit, the Québec population. Formerly only two designatable units were identified in 2009 as Québec and Ontario.
Ontario trend data indicate a retraction of its range and extirpation from the Lake Huron system for the Southwestern Ontario population. Three subpopulations (Ausable River, Catfish Creek and Big Otter Creek) are considered extirpated, and one new subpopulation was discovered in Detroit River, since the last COSEWIC assessment (COSEWIC 2022, in press). Threats to the Southwestern Ontario population include habitat changes (quality and quantity) and invasive species.
Threat of climate change to this species is unknown, but it is assumed that changes to temperature and precipitation will alter stream hydrology and habitat.
Eastern Sand Darter (Southwestern Population) is classified as Endangered. Critical habitat identified under the Species at Risk Act covers 187km2 in Ontario.
The COSEWIC 2022 (in press) status assessment classified the Southwestern Ontario populations as Threatened.
Eastern Sand Darter (Ammocrypta pellucida) (West Lake Population)
The West Lake population represents a new population not identified during the prior assessment, in the nearshore areas off Sandbanks Provincial Park. The population occurs at a single location defined by a single ongoing threat of invasive species, namely Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus).
Threat of climate change to this species is unknown, but it is assumed changes to temperature and precipitation will alter stream hydrology and habitat.
Eastern Sand Darter (West Lake Population) is classified as Endangered in Ontario. Critical habitat identified under the Species at Risk Act covers 187km2 in Ontario.
The COSEWIC 2022 (in press) status assessment classified the West Lake (DU3) population as Threatened.
Skillet Clubtail (Gomphurus ventricosus)
Skillet Clubtail is a dragonfly with a body length of just under 5 cm long. It is dark brown and black, with conspicuous yellow markings on the dorsal abdomen, greenish-yellow markings on the thorax, dark green eyes, and clear wings. It is characterized by a flat, pan-like expansion at the end of its otherwise slim abdomen.
This dragonfly is rarely observed and only in small numbers at known sites. They spend up to two years as aquatic larvae and adults spend much of their time away from the river where they emerged.
Skillet Clubtail is known from two sites in Ontario along the Ottawa River (1924) and Saugeen River (2012). Despite extensive searches along the Ottawa River, there have been no subsequent records.
Evidence of Skillet Clubtail was reported on the Minnesota side of the Rainy River adjacent to northwestern Ontario in 1998 but the species has not been recorded on the Canadian side of the river, despite targeted surveys in 2021. The exuviae (skin left when larva turn into adults) collected in Minnesota have now been confirmed to be the closely related Midland Clubtail. Rainy River is not treated as a location in Ontario for this assessment.
This species’ range extends from New Brunswick, south to Tennessee, and west to northern Minnesota. In Canada it occurs in 13 widely separated subpopulations in southern Ontario, southern Québec, New Brunswick with additional historical subpopulations in Nova Scotia.
This species appears to be naturally rare throughout much of its range. Possible threats are water quality degradation and invasive species.
Skillet Clubtail is classified as Threatened in Ontario based upon a very small population size (<1000) and very few locations (5 or fewer). This possibility is, in part, based on the recent COSEWIC reassessment from Endangered to Special Concern that resulted from the discovery of additional locations.
Northern Oak Hairstreak (Satyrium favonius ontario)
Northern Oak Hairstreak is a small brownish-grey butterfly with ‘tails’ on its hindwings. The undersides of its wings are brownish grey with prominent orange patches near the hindwing margins and it has a blue patch below the lower tail. There is a series of white and black dashed lines on the hindwing undersides and the white median line forms a "W" marking above the blue patch. Larvae are yellowish and slug-like with green and yellow stripes. Pupae are dark brown with fine hairs.
There are only a few occurrences of Northern Oak Hairstreak within a small range of southwestern Ontario, although there are likely a few undocumented occurrences for this difficult-to-survey species. It appears to be locally extirpated from some locations, although a new location has recently been discovered.
Northern Oak Hairstreak ranges from southern Ontario and Massachusetts south to Georgia, and west to Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, and Arizona. This species is widespread but very local and becomes increasingly scarce towards the northern edge of its range. Northern Oak Hairstreak live in oak forests with a closed canopy. Larval food plants are unconfirmed in Canada, although suspected to be White Oak.
Northern Oak Hairstreak is classified as Threatened in Ontario. This species has a very small range in Ontario, with only a few locations and there is an observed, inferred, and projected decline in habitat quality by the application of broad-spectrum biological insecticides to control outbreaks of the non-native Spongy Moth.
Dukes’ Skipper (Euphyes dukesi)
Dukes’ Skipper is a relatively large skipper with a 31-37mm wingspan. In Ontario, Dukes’ Skipper is only found in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and Essex and Lambton Counties in southwestern Ontario. Twenty-eight subpopulations have been documented in Ontario, with 12 subpopulations identified as extant and 16 historical. Little is known about the population size or trends of this species in Ontario.
Dukes’ Skipper habitat in Ontario includes hardwood forest swamps, with natural clearings or edges containing large patches of sedges (Carex spp.). Larval host plants in Ontario are reported to be Lake Sedge and Shoreline Sedge. Adults will make short distance movements from their woodland habitat into adjacent open habitats in search of nectar plants, which in Ontario can include Swamp Milkweed, Common Milkweed, thistles (Cirsium spp.), Common Dogbane, Dense Blazing Star, Virginia Mountain Mint and Cup Plant.
Threats to Dukes’ Skipper in Ontario are related to the rapid growth and spread of invasive European Reed (Phragmites australis australis) throughout Dukes’ Skipper habitats. European Reed spreads quickly and out-competes native species, thereby reducing the area, extent and quality of Dukes’ Skipper host plants and habitat. Other lower impact threats related to land development, agricultural practices and water level fluctuations have also been documented.
Dukes’ Skipper is classified as Special Concern in Ontario. Dukes’ Skipper does not meet thresholds for Endangered or Threatened; however, the number of individuals and available habitat is likely to decline further from increased colonization by European Reed. The status of this species is consistent with the definition of Special Concern under the Endangered Species Act, 2007.
Eastern Wolf (Canis sp. cf. lycaon)
Eastern Wolf was previously referred to as the Algonquin Wolf (Canis sp.) by COSSARO. The name change to Eastern Wolf was adopted in the November 18, 2021 virtual meeting. The final assessment and voting were deferred to the March 31/April 1, 2022 COSSARO meeting.
Eastern Wolf is an intermediate-sized wolf that lives in family-based packs and feeds on prey that includes Beaver, White-tailed Deer, and Moose. The Eastern Wolf in Ontario is largely restricted to Algonquin Provincial Park plus surrounding areas, some of which are protected. These include an area from Killarney Provincial Park south to Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. More distant records are relatively infrequent and likely attributable to occasional long-distance dispersal events. The total number of wolves in this genetic group is likely between 350 and 1,000 (maximum) mature individuals, and populations at this time seem relatively stable.
Although some authors have postulated that the Eastern Wolf lineage originated from hybridization between Grey Wolf and Coyote, numerous studies present evidence that the Eastern Wolf represents a distinct evolutionary unit (lineage) that diverged from a common ancestor with either Grey Wolf or Coyote. Historic and contemporary hybridization appear to have contributed to allele sharing observed between Eastern Wolf and Coyote. However, the two species are significantly differentiated at DNA markers, suggesting that they remain largely reproductively isolated. In addition, morphological data identify Eastern Wolf as being generally larger than Coyotes, and smaller than Grey Wolves, although reliable identification requires genotypic data.
Eastern Wolf is classified as Threatened in Ontario. This is based on the number of mature individuals being anticipated as less than 1000.
Cougar (Puma concolor)
Cougar is a long-lived species with a moderate reproduction rate. Kitten survival from birth to 12 months is between 74 and 80%, and the life expectancy of an adult cougar is 8 to 13 years. All parenting is done by the female, who may mature reproductively as early as 20 months of age with age of breeding being determined by social status. Gestation is approximately 91 days, litter frequency is 18-24 months, and the average litter is 2-3 kittens (with a range of 1 to 6 kittens per litter). Cougars may mate in any season and females tend to breed again when they have lost a litter. Cougars are solitary and are rarely found together, except when mating or when the female is raising young. As males tend to disperse more frequently and over greater distances, they are usually the first to be identified in new jurisdictions. Cougars tend to avoid areas of human settlement, making encounters between cougars and humans rare. Although periodic sightings of cougars do occur in Ontario, they are rare, and as yet there is limited evidence of a breeding population.
Cougar is classified as Special Concern in Ontario. While the presence of cougar in Ontario is either of unknown or unconfirmed origin, its presence does suggest a re-establishing population that may be of concern. This status of this species is consistent with the definition of Special Concern under the Endangered Species Act, 2007.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American Ginseng is a long-lived perennial herb in the Araliaceae (Ivy family) with individuals able to survive for up to 50 years or more. It grows in rich, moist, undisturbed mature Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), White Ash (Fraxinus americana) and American Basswood (Tilia americana) dominated deciduous woods with deep, nutrient rich soil over limestone or marble bedrock. American Ginseng is an obligate understory species and plants are typically found under an overstory (canopy, subcanopy and shrub layer) that provides approximately 75% percent shade. Mature plants have a single stem with 1 to 5 leaves, with each leaf having five leaflets radiating from a central point at the end of the leaf stem. The fruit consists of bright red berries in a cluster that are produced in late summer or fall. Plants can be between 20 cm and 70 cm in height.
American Ginseng plants take 3 to 8 years to mature, and reproduction is through sexual reproduction only. In order to germinate, seeds require an 18-month dormancy period. Since seed predation and seedling mortality rates are high, each seed has a less than 1% chance to reach maturity, making American Ginseng populations extremely sensitive to harvest.
In Canada American Ginseng is found in southern Ontario and southwestern Quebec. In the US it ranges from Louisiana and Georgia to New England and Minnesota.
American Ginseng is classified as Threatened in Ontario based on an inferred decline in the number of mature individuals of at least 50% due to a combination of illegal harvest and loss of habitat for Endangered. The classification is being modified to Threatened based on its status in the broader biologically relevant range.
Incurved Grizzled Moss (Ptychomitrium incurvum)
Incurved Grizzled Moss is a small moss species that grows in blackish-green to yellow-brown tufts on rocky substrates. The only record of this species in Ontario is from 1825. It is still present within the eastern United States where it is commonly found in hardwood forests, inhabiting surfaces or tiny crevices of exposed or protected rocks of variable chemistry. It can also occur at the bases of trees or on logs, but rarely so. The fact that Incurved Grizzled Moss can inhabit a variety of anthropogenic and natural rock substrates suggests that substrate availability does not limit its distribution. Therefore, the absence of this species from Ontario may be a climatic limitation (COSEWIC 2002). Other reasons for its disappearance could be a combination of factors including habitat destruction and pollution; however, the cause of its disappearance from Ontario is not well understood. Since no living Canadian populations are known, threats cannot be assessed.
In general, Incurved Grizzled Moss is small and inconspicuous enough that it is likely to be over-looked or neglected in the field, especially since the plant resembles members of the notoriously difficult family Pottiaceae. But for anyone trained specifically for this species it is easily distinguishable in the field. As indicated in COSEWIC (2002) by Reese (1999), these dark-green little plants growing on rock, with their glossy leaves tightly crispate when dry, are unmistakable.
Incurved Grizzled Moss is classified as Extirpated in Ontario.
Eastern False Rue-anemone (Enemion biternatum)
Eastern False Rue-anemone is a small spring-flowering perennial herb that grows to 10-40 cm in height. The flowers are 1.5-2.0 cm wide with five white petal-like sepals surrounding a cluster of stamens with yellow anthers. This woodland perennial herb grows in moist deciduous woodlands and thickets, typically along river floodplain terraces and valley slopes.
The Canadian population of Eastern False Rue-anemone is restricted to the Carolinian Zone of southwestern Ontario. This population is distributed across several subpopulations and numerous sites, although most plants are concentrated at just two sites. Declines have occurred or are inferred to have occurred at a few sites including a large decline (approximately 70%) in the estimated number of stems at the largest reported patch.
Eastern False Rue-anemone has limited dispersal capability, low rates of visitation by pollinators due to a lack of nectar, and self-compatibility which can lead to inbreeding depression or reduced reproductive success; this is most pronounced in small subpopulations.
Competition from invasive non-native plants is considered the primary threat to Eastern False Rue-anemone in Ontario. Recreational trails that occur in close proximity to patches of Eastern False Rue-anemone plants may result in localized trampling and soil compaction. Many of the subpopulations of Eastern False Rue-anemone are in or near expanding urban areas and recreational pressures are expected to increase.
Eastern False Rue-anemone is classified as Special Concern in Ontario based on approaching the thresholds for Endangered, associated with occurrence in only 6 subpopulations that are at risk of decline in area and quality of habitat resulting from various activities, including recreational trail use and expansion of exotic invasive plants.
Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda)
Pumpkin Ash is a medium-sized, broad-leaved hardwood tree in the Olive Family (Oleaceae). It can attain a height of 15 to 30m and a diameter at breast height of 173 cm under optimal conditions. It is notable for developing a conspicuous swollen, buttressed trunk base in very wet conditions. It has opposite, pinnately-compound leaves 20-45 cm long with densely pubescent leaflets on the bottom surface or, occasionally, only on the veins. Pumpkin Ash has the largest winged fruit (samaras) of any ash (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Like most ash species in Canada, Pumpkin Ash is threatened by Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive non-native insect. Other threats include land conversion to agriculture, roads and utilities, logging and wood harvesting, recreational activities, climate change, deer-browsing and ecosystem modification by non-native plant species (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Pumpkin Ash occurs in the Carolinian Zone of southern Ontario, with only two mature individuals known and fewer than 10 expected to remain in Canada. It is estimated that over 90% of decline has occurred due to Emerald Ash Borer. Over 400 known seedlings and saplings are also at continued risk from Emerald Ash Borer (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Pumpkin Ash is important to Indigenous Peoples, recognizing the importance of the interrelationships of all species within the ecosystem (COSEWIC 2022, in press).
Pumpkin Ash is classified as Endangered in Ontario based on there being an estimated 90% past, current and future decline of mature individuals, an estimated continuing decline of >90% within two generations due to the presence of Emerald Ash Borer, and an estimate of less than ten mature individuals.
Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus) (Carolinian Population)
Eastern Foxsnake is one of the largest snakes in Ontario. Adults are yellowish in colour with dark blotches along their length and alternating smaller dark blotches along their sides. In Ontario, Eastern Foxsnake has been assessed as two distinct populations: the Carolinian population in southwestern Ontario and the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population along the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay. Eastern Foxsnakes spend most of the active season in open habitats, including wetlands and rocky shorelines. This species requires suitable hibernation sites and egg-laying sites, many of which are used by multiple snakes year-after-year.
The Carolinian population is estimated as 4,150–7,230 mature individuals. Human-caused threats are contributing to a continuing decline in abundance of this species, including large-scale habitat loss from historical and ongoing conversion of wetlands and other natural areas to urban and agricultural uses. Road mortality is considered the predominant threat to the Eastern Foxsnake in the Carolinian region, followed by climate change, and natural system modifications.
The Eastern Foxsnake (Carolinian Population) is classified as Threatened in Ontario based on a suspected >30% decline in number of mature individuals over the past three and next three generations (22.5 years) and including a period spanning both past and future, based on c) a decline in extent of occurrence and quality of habitat, and d) actual and potential levels of exploitation (roadkill and intentional killing).
Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus) (Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence Population)
Road mortality is considered to be the predominant threat to the Eastern Foxsnake in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population, followed by climate change, and natural system modifications.
The Eastern Foxsnake (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Population) is classified as Threatened in Ontario based on the number of mature individuals being 1,180–2,189, with fewer than 1000 in any one subpopulation, and there being an inferred and projected continuing decline.
BBRGR represents the “broader biologically relevant geographic range” as per section 5 (4)(b) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007.
Citations and references included in these summaries are expanded upon in the background of species’ assessment reports.