The law

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

If you plan to explore for minerals that will affect a newly protected species or habitat, you either need a permit or to follow certain rules.

These rules apply to early exploration activities allowed under the Mining Act:

  • some forms of drilling
  • removing soil and vegetation with heavy equipment
  • pitting and trenching to expose mineral deposits
  • line cutting (vegetation clearing on mining claim)
  • surveying (geophysical methods)

Different rules apply if you are building a new mine or conducting advanced mineral exploration activities.

Source law

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.

The rules

You must:

  • register the activity and the affected species with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (before work begins)
  • take immediate steps to minimize the effects to the species and habitat
  • create and implement a mitigation plan for each species
  • report sightings of rare species (and update registration documents, if needed)
  • monitor and report on species and activities

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.

Report a rare species

Contact the Natural Heritage Information Centre

How to register

Learn how businesses and individuals can register regulated activities online that involve species at risk.

Minimize effects on a species

You must immediately:

  • avoid effects to woodland caribou (during feeding, migration, reproduction, rearing)
  • take reasonable steps to avoid work that could affect other species during its reproduction, rearing and hibernation seasons
  • avoid work in areas that are used or have been used in the past 3 years for hibernation, reproduction and rearing
  • give the species adequate time to leave the area, before starting work
  • take steps to protect or relocate plants
  • get advice/help before you move it
  • take reasonable steps to restore habitat if feasible
  • create or enhance habitat in the same area, before work finishes

Mitigation plans

Mitigation plans must 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
  • describe a timeline for all stages of the work (including start and end dates)
  • provide a map with the location (scale no greater than 1:20 000)
  • describe the effect of work on species and their habitat
  • say how, when and where you will minimize effects on the species
  • outline how you plan to monitor the steps you took and how effective they were

Deadlines for plans

In most cases, you must complete your plan before exploration affects a species or habitat.

You must complete the plan:

  • within 3 years of the date the species first appeared on site
  • within two years from the date the species was listed for those species listed on or after January 24, 2013.

Updates to mitigation plans

Before an exploration plan ends or a permit expires, you need to update your mitigation plan if work will continue.

You must keep plans for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, if asked.

Reporting process

You must prepare a report that:

  • details how you minimized effects on a species and how effective those steps were (with locations)
  • lists any observations/sightings of a species including:
    • circumstances of the sighting(s)
    • location(s)
    • date(s)
    • time(s) of observations

You must prepare this report within 180 days of ending an activity.

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.

Woodland Caribou Habitat (forest-dwelling boreal population)

If you are working in Caribou habitat, you must describe:

  • the work you were doing
  • the area of habitat where the work took place (geographic location and size)

You must submit this Caribou-specific information to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks within 180 days of ending an activity.

When you need a permit

You could still need a permit if:

  • you’re building a new mine
  • you’re conducting advanced mineral exploration activities
  • operations will affect these species:
    • Golden Eagle
    • any species listed after the date identified in section 0.1 of O. Reg. 242/08

To apply for a permit, contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

New mines/advanced exploration

You may not need a permit for these activities:

  • advanced exploration
  • production
  • rehabilitation

More information on other mining activities

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