COSEWIC Wildlife Species Assessments (detailed version), November 2013*

Results are grouped by taxon and then by status category. The range of occurrence in Canada (by province, territory or ocean) and history of status designation are provided for each wildlife species.

Mammals

Little Brown Myotis Myotis lucifugus Endangered
Assessment Criteria   A3be+4abe
Reason for Designation
Approximately 50% of the global range of this small bat is found in Canada. Sub-populations in the eastern part of the range have been devastated by White-nose Syndrome, a fungal disease caused by an introduced pathogen. This disease was first detected in Canada in 2010, and to date has caused a 94% overall decline in known numbers of hibernating Myotis bats in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Québec. The current range of White-nose Syndrome has been expanding at an average rate of 200-250 kilometres per year. At that rate, the entire Canadian population is likely to be affected within 12 to 18 years. There is no apparent containment of the northward or westward spread of the pathogen, and proper growing conditions for it exist throughout the remaining range.
Range   YT NT BC AB SK MB ON QC NB PE NS NL
Status History
Designated Endangered in an emergency assessment on February 3, 2012. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
North Atlantic Right Whale Eubalaena glacialis Endangered
Assessment Criteria   D1
Reason for Designation
This long-lived, slowly reproducing whale species was driven nearly to extinction by commercial whaling but has been protected from whaling since 1935. The whales found in Canada are part of a single global population of the species, which is endemic to the North Atlantic Ocean. Since 1990, the total population has been increasing at a rate of approximately 2.4% per year. The total population in 2010, including all age classes, was estimated at 468 individuals, of which between 122 and 136 were adult females. The estimated number of mature individuals, after accounting for a male-biased sex ratio among adults, and for a small number of females that are incapable of reproducing, is between 245 and 272. The rate of population growth is lower than would be predicted based on the biology of the species and is limited by ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear. Although measures have been implemented in both Canada and the United States to lessen ship strikes, they continue to occur and ship traffic is expected to increase significantly within the range of the species in coming decades. Further, adult females appear to be more prone to being struck than males. Limited efforts have also been made to reduce the incidence and severity of entanglements, but these events remain a major cause of injury and mortality.
Range   Atlantic Ocean
Status History
The Right Whale was considered a single species and designated Endangered in 1980. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 1985 and in April 1990. Split into two species in May 2003 to allow a separate designation of the North Atlantic Right Whale. North Atlantic Right Whale was designated Endangered in May 2003 and November 2013.
 
Northern Myotis Myotis septentrionalis Endangered
Assessment Criteria   A3be+4abe
Reason for Designation
Approximately 40% of the global range of this northern bat is in Canada. Sub-populations in the eastern part of the range have been devastated by White-nose Syndrome, a fungal disease caused by an introduced pathogen. This disease was first detected in Canada in 2010 and to date has caused a 94% overall decline in numbers of known hibernating Myotis bats in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Québec hibernacula compared with earlier counts before the disease struck. Models in the northeastern United States for Little Brown Myotis predict a 99% probability of functional extirpation by 2026. Given similar life history characteristics, these results are likely applicable to this species.  In addition to its tendency to occur in relatively low abundance levels in hibernacula, there is some indication this species is experiencing greater declines than other species since the onset of White-nose Syndrome. The current range of White-nose Syndrome overlaps with approximately one third of this species' range and is expanding at an average rate of 200 to 250 kilometres per year. At that rate, the entire Canadian population will likely be affected within 12 to18 years.  There is no apparent containment of the northward or westward spread of the pathogen, and proper growing conditions for it exist throughout the remaining range.
Range   YT NT BC AB SK MB ON QC NB PE NS NL
Status History
Designated Endangered in an emergency assessment on February 3, 2012. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Tri-colored Bat Perimyotis subflavus Endangered
Assessment Criteria   A2abe+3be+4abe
Reason for Designation
This bat is one of the smallest bats in eastern North America.  Approximately 10% of its global range is in Canada, and it is considered rare in much of its Canadian range. Declines of more than 75% have occurred in the known hibernating populations in Québec and New Brunswick due to White-nose Syndrome. This fungal disease, caused by an invasive pathogen, was first detected in Canada in 2010, and has caused similar declines in Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.  Most of the Canadian range of the species overlaps with the current White-nose Syndrome range, and further declines are expected as more hibernacula continue to become infected.
Range   ON QC NB NS
Status History
Designated Endangered in an emergency assessment on February 3, 2012. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Plains Bison Bison bison bison Threatened
Assessment Criteria   C2a(i)
Reason for Designation
This bison occurs in only five isolated wild subpopulations in Canada. There are approximately 1,200 to 1,500 mature individuals, of which about half occur in one subpopulation located outside of the historical range. The total number of individuals has increased by 36% since the last assessment in 2004, but the total remains a tiny fraction of their numbers of 200 years ago. Currently they occupy less than 0.5% of their original range in Canada. This animal continues to face a number of threats to its persistence. Further increases in population size or the addition of new subpopulations is curtailed by fragmented or unsuitable habitat that is often managed to exclude bison. An overall decline is projected for wild subpopulations because they are managed to control or reduce population size and are subject to unpredictable but potentially catastrophic future events, mainly disease outbreaks and extreme weather.
Range   BC AB SK
Status History
Designated Threatened in May 2004. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This species is restricted to only five breeding locations (consisting of 7 rookeries) in British Columbia that occupy less than 10 km², with approximately 70% of births occurring at a single location (Scott Islands). The population is increasing, but is sensitive to human disturbance while on land and is vulnerable to catastrophic events such as major oil spills due to its highly concentrated breeding aggregations. The species is near to qualifying for Threatened, but has recovered from historical culling and deliberate persecution. 
Range   BC Pacific Ocean
Status History
Designated Not at Risk in April 1987. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2003 and November 2013.
 
Wood Bison Bison bison athabascae Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This bison only occurs in the wild in Canada. There are currently 5,136 to 7,172 mature individuals in nine isolated wild subpopulations. The population has increased since 1987, mostly due to the establishment of new wild subpopulations within the original range. About 60% of the overall population is included in Wood Buffalo National Park and surrounding areas, and is affected by two cattle diseases, bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. Two wild subpopulations have recently experienced significant mortality events demonstrating the inherent vulnerability of small isolated populations. The Mackenzie herd decreased by 53% due to an outbreak of anthrax and the Hay-Zama decreased by 20% due to starvation during a severe winter. Further increases to the population size or the addition of new wild subpopulations is not likely, as recovery is constrained by fragmented or unsuitable habitat, road mortality, disease management associated with livestock and commercial bison operations, and disease outbreaks.
Range   YT NT BC AB MB
Status History
Designated Endangered in April 1978. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 1988 and May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2013.
 

Birds

Piping Plover circumcinctus subspecies Charadrius melodus circumcinctus Endangered
Assessment Criteria   C2a(ii)
Reason for Designation
The interior subspecies of this shorebird is projected to decline over the longer term, particularly if concerted conservation efforts are relaxed. Overall numbers remain low and adult survival has been poor over the last decade. Threats from predation, human disturbance, and declines in habitat extent and quality continue.  
Range   AB SK MB ON
Status History
The species was considered a single unit and designated Threatened in April 1978. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 1985. In May 2001, the species was re-examined and split into two groups according to subspecies. The circumcinctus subspecies was designated Endangered in May 2001.Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Piping Plover melodus subspecies Charadrius melodus melodus Endangered
Assessment Criteria   C2a(i)
Reason for Designation
Numbers of the eastern subspecies of this small shorebird remain extremely low and the population continues to decline, despite concerted conservation efforts. Threats from predation, human disturbance, and declines in habitat extent and quality also continue.
Range   QC NB PE NS NL
Status History
The species was considered a single unit and designated Threatened in April 1978. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 1985. In May 2001, the species was re-examined and split into two groups according to subspecies. The melodus subspecies was designated Endangered in May 2001 and November 2013.
 
Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus Threatened
Assessment Criteria   D2
Reason for Designation
This species came close to extinction following decades of feather harvesting at its breeding colonies in the North Pacific. Since the end of the feather harvest, the population has increased significantly, although still well below historic numbers. The breeding population is, however, virtually restricted to two islands, one of which contains 85% of the breeding birds. The small breeding range makes the species highly susceptible to human activities or stochastic events. 
Range   BC Pacific Ocean
Status History
Designated Threatened in November 2003. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Grasshopper Sparrow, pratensis subspecies Ammodramus savannarum pratensis Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
In Canada, this grassland bird is restricted to southern Ontario and southwestern Quebec. This subspecies has experienced persistent, long-term declines. It faces several ongoing threats including habitat loss, as pastures and hayfields are converted to row crops, habitat fragmentation, which increases predation rates, and mowing activities that destroy nests.
Range   ON QC
Status History
Designated Special Concern in November 2013.
 
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus Special Concern
     Eastern population
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
Though increases have been recorded in southern parts of its breeding range, the population size of this sea duck remains relatively small. Its tendency to congregate in large groups when moulting and on its marine wintering areas makes it susceptible to catastrophic events such as oil spills. Such threats are substantial and are likely increasing, and are of particular significance for populations of long-lived species such as this sea duck, which can be slow to recover. Its population also appears to rely on continued management efforts, particularly those involving restrictions on hunting.
Range   NU QC NB NS NL
Status History
The Eastern population was designated Endangered in April 1990. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in May 2001 and November 2013.
 

Amphibians

Eastern Tiger Salamander Ambystoma tigrinum Endangered
     Prairie population
Assessment Criteria   B1ab(iii)c(iv)+2ab(iii)c(iv)
Reason for Designation
This salamander is known from only six sites in Canada within a landscape modified by livestock production, pastures, and forage crops, and intersected by roads. There are recent records from only one of these sites, and the species may be extirpated from one site. The persistence of populations is precarious because of the salamander’s small Canadian range, isolation of populations, and the tendency of salamander numbers to fluctuate widely among years, exacerbated by increasing frequency of droughts and other severe weather events.
Range   MB
Status History
The Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) was originally assessed by COSEWIC in November 2001 as three separate populations: Great Lakes population (Extirpated), Prairie / Boreal population (Not at Risk), and Southern Mountain population (Endangered). In November 2012, Tiger Salamander was split into two separate species, Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) and Western Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium), each with two different populations that received separate designations. The Prairie population of the Eastern Tiger Salamander was designated Endangered in November 2013.
 
Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog Ascaphus montanus Threatened
Assessment Criteria   C1+2a(i)
Reason for Designation
In Canada, this unusual stream-breeding frog is restricted to two unconnected watersheds, where it relies on small, forested fast-flowing streams. Habitat damage from sedimentation due primarily to roads, logging, and fires, and loss of terrestrial dispersal habitat from logging and wood harvesting are key threats. The total population is small, consisting of approximately 3000 adults, which increases the vulnerability of the population to environmental perturbations. Increases in habitat protection and a moratorium on mining in the Flathead River portion of the range resulted in a change of status from Endangered.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Endangered in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2013.
 

Fishes

Bocaccio Sebastes paucispinis Endangered
Assessment Criteria   A2b
Reason for Designation
This species is a long-lived rockfish with a maximum age for females in Canada of 52 years and a generation time of 20 years. Its life history makes it susceptible to overfishing. The current assessment has benefited from increased population information that covers the entire distribution in Canada and extends much further into the past. The population has been in continuous decline for 60 years and it has declined by 28% in the 10-year period since it was first assessed by COSEWIC. New surveys initiated since the last assessment indicate that these recent declines have occurred in areas of highest biomass off the west coast of Vancouver Island and in Queen Charlotte Sound. Fishery bycatch has been reduced but remains the main threat to the population.
Range   Pacific Ocean
Status History
Designated Threatened in November 2002. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2013.
 
White Hake Urophycis tenuis Endangered
     Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population
Assessment Criteria   A2b+3b+4b; E
Reason for Designation
This population increased during the mid-1970s to a peak in the mid-1980s before undergoing a steep decline, which leveled out by the mid-1990s. The overall decline rate has been 91% over the past 3 generations. The area of occupancy followed a similar though less dramatic trend, and one segment of the population seems to have disappeared.  The non-fishing adult mortality rate of the population increased dramatically in the 1990s and it remains extremely high. If this continues, the population is unlikely to be viable in the long term. Thus, numbers remain low, with minimal recovery, despite the cessation of fisheries directed toward this species.  While fisheries were the primary cause of the decline, it appears that high non-fishing mortality, perhaps by Grey Seal predation, may be preventing recovery since then.
Range   Atlantic Ocean
Status History
Designated Endangered in November 2013.
 
White Hake Urophycis tenuis Threatened
     Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence population
Assessment Criteria   Met criteria for Endangered, A1b, but designated Threatened, A1b, because abundance has stabilized over the past generation, in parallel with a reduction in fishing mortality.
Reason for Designation
Adults in this population are estimated to have declined by approximately 70% over the past three generations. Most of this decline occurred before the mid-1990s. The population has remained fairly stable since then, and there has been little overall trend in area of occupancy. Restrictions on fisheries since the mid to late 1990s over most of their range may be responsible for stabilizing their numbers. 
Range   Atlantic Ocean
Status History
Designated Threatened in November 2013.
 
Cutlip Minnow Exoglossum maxillingua Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This small-bodied freshwater fish occurs across a relatively small area in eastern Ontario and Québec where it has been lost from two watersheds over the last 10 years. Much of the current range of this species is subject to threats from widespread habitat degradation and multiple invasive species.
Range   ON QC
Status History
Designated Not at Risk in April 1994. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2013.
 
Giant Threespine Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This freshwater stickleback is of unusually large size and is currently known to exist in two small lakes that are in relatively remote areas. The populations could, however, quickly become Endangered if invasive species were to be introduced as has been observed in other stickleback populations.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Special Concern in April 1980. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Green Sturgeon Acipenser medirostris Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This is a large-bodied fish species that is slow to grow and mature. The number of individuals in Canadian waters is unknown, but is undoubtedly not large. This species is globally at risk, and known threats are fisheries by-catch in both Canada and the United States, and habitat loss and degradation owing to water extraction, industrial and recreational development, and construction of dams in the United States where all known spawning locations are found.
Range   BC Pacific Ocean
Status History
Designated Special Concern in April 1987. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2004 and November 2013.
 
Unarmoured Threespine Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This morphologically distinctive small-bodied freshwater fish is currently known to exist in only three very small lakes that are in a relatively remote area. The populations could, however, quickly become Endangered if invasive species were to be introduced as has been observed in other stickleback populations.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Special Concern in April 1983. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 

Arthropods

Oregon Branded Skipper Hesperia colorado oregonia Endangered
Assessment Criteria   B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
Reason for Designation
This species inhabits sparsely vegetated Garry Oak and coastal sand spit ecosystems that have undergone enormous historic losses. The populations of this skipper have likely undergone similar declines and only four of sixteen sites totaling less than 16 km2 remain extant. This habitat is fragmented and disjunct. The greatest threats this skipper faces at present, however, are the application of Btk pesticide, used to control the invasive Gypsy Moth, and vegetation succession in the open habitats.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Endangered in November 2013.
 
Sand-verbena Moth Copablepharon fuscum Endangered
Assessment Criteria   B2ab(iii)
Reason for Designation
This moth and its host plant are habitat specialists dependent on coastal sand ecosystems, a rare and declining habitat along the West Coast of British Columbia. The species occurs at five small and isolated sites within a habitat that is highly threatened by erosion from increased winter storms and sea level rise, dune stabilization by invading vegetation, industrial and recreational development, recreational use, and the potential aerial application of pesticide to control the Gypsy Moth. The host plant and therefore the moth are facing continuing declines due to on-going erosion and degradation of coastal dunes.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Endangered in November 2003. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 
Audouin’s Night-stalking Tiger Beetle Omus audouini Threatened
Assessment Criteria   B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
Reason for Designation
This beetle is restricted to a small area in the Georgia Basin of southwestern British Columbia, within a narrow strip of coastal lowland around Boundary Bay and Greater Victoria. Major threats include habitat loss through agricultural and urban development, vegetation succession in open habitats, disturbance from recreational activities, and, in the longer term, sea level rise. There are fewer than ten known sites, and the discovery of more populations is unlikely. The species is flightless and thus dispersal is limited.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Threatened in November 2013.
 

Molluscs

Yellow Lampmussel Lampsilis cariosa Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
Populations still occur in the Sydney River watershed, Nova Scotia, and in the Saint John River watershed, New Brunswick. In addition, a new site has been found at Pottle Lake in Nova Scotia. While cumulative threat impacts from non-native species of fish and from industrial pollution are high, there is uncertainty about the timing and possibility of invasion by Zebra Mussels and the impact of non-native species of fish on host fish for the Yellow Lampmussel.
Range   NB NS
Status History
Designated Special Concern in May 2004. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2013.
 

Vascular Plants

Tweedy's Lewisia Lewisiopsis tweedyi Endangered
Assessment Criteria   B1ab(v)+2ab(v); C2a(i,ii); D1
Reason for Designation
This showy perennial plant is known only from Washington and British Columbia. It exists in Canada as two small subpopulations and has undergone a decline of up to 30% in recent years, possibly due to plant collecting. The small population size and potential impact from changes in moisture regimes due to climate change place the species at on-going risk.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Endangered in November 2013.
 

Lichens

Eastern Waterfan Peltigera hydrothyria Threatened
Assessment Criteria   C2a(i)
Reason for Designation
This rare lichen is endemic to Eastern North America. In Canada, it is known only from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Québec. It grows at or below water level in cool, clear, partially-shaded streams. It is threatened in the short term by disturbance from activities which cause stream siltation, alteration of microclimate and declines in water quality. In the longer term, changes in weather patterns that alter water levels and flow in its preferred habitat are another threat.
Range   QC NB NS
Status History
Designated Threatened in November 2013.
 
Western Waterfan Peltigera gowardii Special Concern
Assessment Criteria   not applicable
Reason for Designation
This lichen is endemic to western North America. There are only five known occurrences in Canada, all in British Columbia, and two former occurrences appear to be extirpated. This lichen is unique in growing at or below water level in clear, permanent, unshaded alpine or subalpine streams. Habitat loss is likely to result from temperature increases caused by climate change. Because of that change, larger plant species currently below the subalpine zone will be able to grow at higher elevations. Subalpine meadows are therefore predicted to become increasingly colonized by shading vegetation. Also, increasing drought will transform permanent watercourses into ephemeral streams.
Range   BC
Status History
Designated Special Concern in November 2013.
 
* The review of classification of the Bering Cisco (Coregonus laurettae) was completed. COSEWIC decided that a fully updated status report is required to assess the status of this wildlife species. The Northwestern Cellar Spider (Psilochorus hesperus) was withdrawn to incorporate more information on search effort, rescue potential, and number of locations.

21/02/2014