The law

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered and threatened species — animals and plants in decline and at risk of disappearing in the province.

Projects that avoid or reduce a serious threat to human health and safety can proceed, even if they affect an endangered or threatened species.

You may not need a permit for specified types of work. But you must follow certain rules.

Different rules apply where the risk to human or animal health or safety is imminent.

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

  • Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007
  • Ontario Regulation 242/08 (General)

Scope of work

The rules apply to health and safety work that will:

  • prevent or remove contamination from — or pollution to — earth, air or water
  • protect the quality of the earth, air or water
  • prevent the spread of disease
  • protect against drought, flooding, forest fires, unstable slopes and erosion
  • maintain, repair, remove, decommission or upgrade a structure or infrastructure as long as:
    • its location does not change
    • it does not occupy more area than it did before, except in the case of a replacement culvert which may be bigger
    • how it is used does not change

What kind of infrastructure

The rules apply to:

  • communications systems (e.g. maintain a telecommunications right of way)
  • electric power, alternative energy or renewable energy systems (e.g. maintain the transmission system)
  • oil or gas pipelines (e.g. dig up and test lines to see if they leak)
  • road or rail systems (e.g. clear lines of sight along roads)
  • water, wastewater or storm water systems
  • some drainage works designed to control surface water runoff

The rules

For these specified health and safety projects, you must:

  • register the activity and the affected species with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (before work begins)
  • take immediate steps to minimize effects on the species and habitat
  • report sightings of rare species (and update registration documents, if needed)
  • create and implement a mitigation plan for each species if
    • you plan to upgrade or remove a structure or infrastructure to meet a safety standard
    • decommission a mine
    • replace an entire structure or infrastructure

Report a species

If you see or encounter a species, you must inform the Natural Heritage Information Centre –within 3 months of the sighting or encounter.

To report a sighting:

  • fill out a Rare Species Reporting form online
  • complete each section in the report
  • hit the submit button to send the report

Report a rare species

How to register

Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide

  • print a copy or
  • open the guide in a new window or tab

Natural Resources Registration Guide

Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile

You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.

Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:

  • business profile to register business activities if you are a(n):
    • business
    • non-profit organization
    • municipality
    • government agency
    • ministry
    • authorized representative registering activities on behalf of any of the above.
  • an individual profile to register non-business activities

Open a new window or tab to:

Create a business profile
Create an individual profile

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

  • sign in to ONe-key
  • confirm your Natural Resources profile

Open a new window or tab to:

Sign in as a returning business
Sign in as a returning individual

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
    • if you are an authorized representative, identify the business you are representing
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Activity and Other Notices under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the registry options
  • select Threat to Human Health or Safety - Activities to Protect Against Non-Imminent Threats
  • register the activity
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Receive confirmation

  • receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
    • By law, the regulation requires you to keep contact information up-to-date should the Ministry need to contact you
    • By law, the regulation requires you to submit requested documents within 14 days of a request from the Ministry using the contact information you provide
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

If you need assistance to register your activity, please call 1-800-387-7011.

If you require an alternate format:

  • download the registration form and user guide
  • print, complete and mail the form
  • wait for confirmation

Notice of Activity Form - Threats to Human Health or Safety - Activities to protect against non-imminent threats

Minimize effects on a species

You must immediately:

  • avoid operations during sensitive periods (e.g. hibernation, reproduction and rearing) unless this delay will make the risk to health or safety unacceptable
  • give a species adequate time to leave the area before starting work
  • prevent a species from entering the area (e.g. put up a fence)
  • take steps to protect or relocate plants
  • get advice/help before you move an animal or plant

Rules for infrastructure

If you are maintaining, repairing, replacing or upgrading infrastructure, you must also:

  • keep a schedule of work or an engineer’s report
  • make it available to the Ministry of Natural Resource and Forestry, if asked

Mitigation plans

You need to prepare a mitigation plan, only if you are:

  • upgrading or removing a structure
  • decommissioning a mine
  • replacing an entire structure or infrastructure (e.g. a bridge replacement)

Mitigation plans should include the best available information on a species.

You can get this information from:

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Aboriginal traditional knowledge
  • community knowledge (e.g. local nature clubs)

A plan must:

  • be prepared by an expert on the species
  • describe the activity and its purpose
  • explain why the work will avoid a risk to health or safety
  • explain why the work must be done soon
  • explain what will happen if the work is not done
  • set out the stages of the activity and its timing
  • describe the area of the work (and include a map)
  • say how you will minimize effects on a species

Deadlines for plans

You must prepare a plan, before the work you do affects a species or its habitat.

You must keep plans for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, within 14 days, if asked.

When you need a permit

You could need a permit if your work affects:

  • Massasauga (Carolinian population)
  • Mottled Duskywing
  • Forked Three-awned Grass
  • Bluehearts
  • Juniper Sedge
  • Spotted Wintergreen
  • Heart-leaved Plantain
  • Virginia Mallow
  • Virginia Goat’s-rue
  • Bird’s-foot Violet
  • a species listed after June 27, 2014
  • any species listed after the date identified in section 0.1 of O. Reg. 242/08

You may still need a permit if you are:

  • building new structures or infrastructure
  • changing the location or area of an existing structure or infrastructure
  • changing how you will operate or use existing structures or infrastructure
  • repairing or maintaining a structure or infrastructure not covered under these rules

To apply for a permit, contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office.

Find an MNRF district office

Imminent risk to health and safety

You don't need to register or get a permit, if the risk to the health or safety of humans or animals is imminent (e.g. responding to a natural disaster or public emergency).

These rules are outlined in section 8 of Ontario Regulation 242/08 (General).

Identify a species at risk

If you are unsure about a certain species — and would like help identifying or confirming what it is — you can see photos and get more information on the Endangered Species website.

Get more details about a species