The law

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.

Source law

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

  • Endangered Species Act, 2007
  • Ontario Regulation 242/08 (general)

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.

The rules

You must:

  • 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

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 Species Protection or Recovery Activities
  • 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 require an alternate format:

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

If you need assistance to register your activity, please contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Notice of Activity Form - Species Protection or Recovery Activities

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

Handling animals

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

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

Reporting process

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.

Report a rare species

Contact the Natural Heritage Information Centre

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.

Get more details about a species

Updated: August 12, 2021
Published: June 14, 2013