The law

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects extirpated, endangered and threatened species — animals and plants that are in decline and disappearing from the province.

You need to follow certain rules, if you want to keep or transport an extirpated, endangered or threatened species.

These rules depend on whether you're an educational organization:

  • a provincially or municipally owned and operated museum, science centre or other similar place (called curatorial institutions)
  • a university or college that is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
  • a college of applied arts and technology (under the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act, 2002)

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)

Rules for educational organizations

You can keep a species, whether it is alive, dead or a part (e.g. a turtle shell) for a scientific or educational purpose.

You must:

  • register with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • only get the species from a person who is allowed to have it
  • keep living species safe from harm while you have it
  • only transport species to another educational organization or a veterinarian
  • create and maintain a record that includes:
    • what you have (e.g. species name, if it is alive or dead, if it is a part, such as a shell of a turtle)
    • the number of things you have
    • the date you got it
    • where you got it from
    • a description of any injuries (if living)
    • the circumstances of its death (if it dies while you have it)
    • the circumstances of transfer (if you transferred it to another organization)
  • keep this record for as long as you have the species — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources within 14 days, if asked

Rules for individuals

You can't keep or transport a living animal or plant that is a species at risk.

You can still possess a dead (or part of a dead) species at risk — depending on what you will do with the species.

If you plan to keep it for educational/scientific purposes (e.g. school exhibit, nature club)

You must:

  • register the possession with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • describe your scientific or educational activity when you register
  • transport the species to an educational organization when you're done

If you only plan to transport it to an educational organization

You must do so within 7 days of acquiring the dead species (or part of one).

Find an injured animal

If you encounter an injured animal, you can take it to:

  • a veterinarian
  • wildlife custodian (a person authorized to take care of sick or injured wildlife)

When you need to register

Educational organizations

  • register only once, if you plan to keep a dead or live species at risk
  • register using a Notice of Activity form

Non-educational organizations/others

  • register every time you acquire a species at risk for a scientific or educational purpose
  • register using a Notice of Possession form

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 a business profile for Natural Resources registrations. This profile type is used by:

  • businesses
  • non-profit organizations
  • municipalities
  • government agencies
  • ministries
  • an authorized representative profile to register activities on behalf of a business.

Individuals are ineligible for this activity.

Open a new window or tab to create a business profile .

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

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

Open a new window or tab to sign in as a returning business .

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
    • If you are an authorized representative, choose the business that you will be registering activities for
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Activity and Other Notices under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the registry options
  • select Possession for scientific or educational purposes by an educational organization
  • 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 Possession for Scientific or Educational Purposes

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 28, 2013