The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) provides for the establishment of the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO). COSSARO sits as an independent committee that is responsible for classifying species at risk based on established criteria. In accordance with the ESA, COSSARO may at any time submit a report to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding species that have been assessed and classified. Where a report submitted to the Minister identifies the need to amend the SARO List, the ESA requires that the regulation (Ontario Regulation 230/08) be amended within three months of receiving the report from COSSARO.
On March 13, 2017 the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry received a report from COSSARO. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry made the corresponding amendments to Ontario Regulation 230/08 on June 2, 2017.
These amendments will result in the addition of:
• five new Endangered species:
o Hoptree Borer,
o Nine-spotted Lady Beetle,
o River Darter – Great Lakes St. Lawrence population,
o Unisexual Ambystoma – Jefferson Salamander dependent population,
o Unisexual Ambystoma – Small-mouthed Salamander dependent population,
• one new Threatened species:
o Lake Huron Grasshopper,
• and one new Special Concern species:
o Northern Sunfish – Great Lakes – (Upper St. Lawrence population) to the SARO List.
• One species was removed from the SARO List:
o Pygmy Pocket Moss.
• Three species were up-listed from Threatened to Endangered:
o Spiny Softshell,
o Spotted Gar
• One species was up-listed from Special Concern to Threatened:
o Louisiana Waterthrush.
• Two species were down-listed from Threatened to Special Concern:
o Common Hoptree,
• One was down-listed from Endangered to Special Concern:
o Lake Erie Watersnake.
COSSARO reviewed the status of three species whose classification did not change (Eastern Persius Duskywing, Gray Fox, and River Redhorse). COSSARO adopted to change the name of Grey Fox (Urocyon cineroargenteus) to Gray Fox (Urocyon cineroargenteus) and Rainbow Mussel (Villosa iris) to Rainbow (Villosa iris).
In accordance with the provisions of the ESA, species newly listed as or changed to Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened and the habitats of species newly listed as or changed to Endangered or Threatened are automatically protected once the amended regulation is filed. In addition, the ESA requires the preparation of recovery strategies within one or two years depending on whether the species is listed as Endangered or Threatened. A decision regarding the preparation of a habitat regulation is required within two or three years respectively for Endangered or Threatened species. For the species listed as Special Concern, the listing requires the completion of a management plan within five years, unless a federal recovery strategy or management plan is required to be prepared under the Species at Risk Act (Canada).