Protecting Canada’s Wildlife – how far have we come???


How many species in Canada are endangered or at risk? It’s impossible to answer that question with an exact number, just as it’s impossible to know precisely how many species of wildlife there are. But this much is certain: the 35-year-old Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada — the national body of scientists and other experts that assesses wildlife species — currently gives at-risk status to 640 species. Of those animals, the federal Species at Risk Act lists 492, providing the basis for recovery and management planning. Here, we break down those numbers and present a snapshot of what we know for certain about Canada’s species at risk.

About the Species At Risk Act

This year, Canada’s Species at Risk Act marks its 10th anniversary. How far have we come in protecting wildlife, and how far do we still have to go?

Across Canada, wildlife is declining due to a wide range of pressures including habitat loss, contaminants, commercial over-exploitation, invasive species and climate change. To date the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has listed 585 species at some level of risk – extinct, extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern.

Endangered Species Programs help to conserve threatened and at-risk wildlife across Canada through:

  • research into the causes of species decline and the best methods to ensure recovery
  • sharing knowledge among conservation organizations on successful practices
  • reintroduction of endangered species into their native habitats
  • programs to help conserve habitat for endangered species
  • work that will improve government policies affecting endangered species

For the 2012 statistics on the status of Canadian Wildlife check out the links at the bottom of our website.