Helping Species at Risk

A species at risk is any native plant or animal that is at risk of extinction or extirpation (disappearing from a defined area).

Species at Risk Facts

  • Over 180 species at risk have been listed in Ontario with the stark majority being found in the Carolinian zone

  • Species at risk include mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, molluscs, mosses, vascular plants, and insects

  • Species can be at risk federally, provincially, or both

  • From a national stand-point, the Species at Risk Act (proclaimed in 2003) is in place to prevent Canadian species from becoming extirpated or extinct, to provide for the recovery of endangered or threatened species, and to encourage the management of other species to prevent them from becoming at risk

  • Six provinces have specific legislation to protect species at risk

  • In Ontario, a new Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 2007, providing protection to threatened and endangered species and their habitats

  • Species at risk can be listed in one of four classes: extirpated, endangered, threatened, or special concern

How is a Species Listed as “at Risk” in Ontario?

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario consists of a group of experts that assess species based on scientific, community, and traditional knowledge. The committee reviews a species when a concern about its survival is raised and, if classified “at risk”, the species is added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List in one of the four classes:

  • Extirpated – a native species that no longer exists in the wild in Ontario, but still exists elsewhere
  • Endangered – a native species facing extinction or extirpation
  • Threatened – a native species at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario
  • Special Concern – a native species that is sensitive to human activities or natural events which may cause it to become endangered or threatened

Ruthven’s Species at Risk Program

A formal program dedicated to species at risk at Ruthven Park began in the summer of 2008 with funding from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Species at Risk Stewardship Fund. In April 2009 this project was re-funded by the MNR and funded for the first time by Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk. Accomplishments and goals of this program include:

  • Surveys for avian species at risk
  • Vernal pool surveys for salamanders
  • Installation of snake hibernation sites
  • Tree planting to increase forest area
  • Development and delivery of curriculum-based school program
  • Habitat mapping
  • Public outreach
  • Creation of pamphlets, activity books, site guides, and other printed materials for adults and youth
  • Preparation of conservation recommendations for the future

Learn More

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Canada are your best resources to learn more about species at risk. Their websites will allow you to view legislation and species lists, download fact sheets on specific species, and learn more about government stewardship projects and recovery actions.

When You Visit Ruthven Park…

While you are exploring Ruthven Park you may come upon a species at risk. Some of these include the Monarch Butterfly, Eastern Milksnake, Cerulean Warbler, and Snapping Turtle. Please report these sightings to us and/or the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to help us learn more about the distribution and abundance of these species! Pamphlets and other educational materials related to species at risk are available in the Gate House and the Bird Banding Lab.

Assistance for this project was provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.


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Contact Us:
Phone: (905) 772-0560 

Mailing Address: 
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Box 610
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0