Help protect or recover a species at risk
What you need to know if you plan to carry out work that aims to protect or recover an endangered or threatened species.
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Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered or threatened species — animals and plants that are in decline and disappearing from the province.
You do not need a permit to carry out certain activities that help protect or recover (improve the health of) species at risk.
You need to register the work and follow certain rules.
This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:
This page is for informational purposes only. You should not rely on it to determine your legal obligations. To determine your legal obligations, consult the Endangered Species Act, 2007 and its regulations.
If you need legal advice, consult a legal professional. In the event of an error on this page or a conflict between this page and any applicable law, the law prevails.
What kind of work
The rules cover work that is done to support provincial or federal government policies and strategies that seek to protect or recover endangered or threatened species.
Work must support (in order of priority):
- an Ontario Government Response Statement (if available)
- an Ontario recovery strategy (if available)
- a federal recovery strategy or management plan
If no provincial or federal strategy exists for the species
You can still carry out work to protect or recover a species, if it would:
- enhance, maintain or restore the habitat of one or more species
- reduce a threat to a species that was identified in a federal status report on the species
- develop scientific knowledge related to:
- how many members of a species exist and where they are located in Ontario
- how the species depends on or uses its habitat
- a threat to the species (as identified in the federal status report on the species)
You can also do stewardship work that’s under a grant you get from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
- register the activity with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (before work begins)
- take steps to minimize effects on species and habitat
- create and implement a mitigation plan for each species
- say how you will minimize effects on species in the mitigation plan
- report any sightings of species at risk
- monitor the work and create and maintain a record that includes:
- how the work affects the species
- what steps you took to minimize effects to the species
- the names of the individuals responsible for the work
- submit a final report to the Natural Heritage Information Centre (within 180 days of completing the work)
How to register
Minimize effects on a species
You must take reasonable steps to minimize effects on the species:
- use experts who specialize in the species and this type of protection and recovery work
- train people doing the work (e.g., how to identify species and minimize effects of work)
- possess a living plant or animal for no more than 7 days
- do not relocate plants or animals outside the area from where they were taken
- take steps to avoid the spread of disease (among the species or to other species)
- monitor the effect of the work on the species
- document the steps you took to minimize effects on a species during monitoring
You must also:
- prepare a document that says how you will handle and care for animals
- get a written opinion from an animal care committee that confirms that you plan to handle/care for animals appropriately
- follow the procedures
Mitigation plans should include the best available information on a species.
You can get this information from:
- The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
- Aboriginal traditional knowledge
- community knowledge (e.g., local nature clubs)
A plan must:
- be prepared by an expert on the species
- be updated every 5 years
- describe the work, including:
- its nature and purpose
- all stages of the work
- timelines (e.g. start and end dates)
- list geographic location(s) where work will occur
- list each endangered or threatened species likely to be affected by the work
- describe the impact of the work on each listed species
- say how you will minimize the adverse effects of the work on the species
- outline how you plan to monitor the effects of the work on the species
- include documentation that confirms that you will appropriately handle and care for animals
You must prepare a report that:
- describes the work, including its purpose and how it is an eligible activity
- includes copies of the records maintained throughout the work
- summarizes the results of the work and how effective it was
This report must be completed and submitted to the Natural Heritage Information Centre — within 180 days of finishing the work.
You must keep plans for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks within 14 days, if asked.
Report a species sighting
If you see or encounter a member of the species, you must inform the Natural Heritage Information Centre — within 3 months of a sighting or encounter.
To report a sighting or encounter, complete and submit a Rare Species Reporting form.
When you need a permit
You could still need a permit if you plan to:
- kill a plant or animal (e.g., research projects that require lethal sampling)
- relocate a live plant or animal into an area other than the one where it was taken
- keep a living plant or animal longer than 7 days
- keep a dead plant or animal (or part of one) for longer than necessary to carry out the work
- affect a species listed after June 27, 2014
To apply for a permit, contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
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.