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Endangered Species

Without a strong Endangered Species Act (ESA), more than 230 species at-risk in Ontario will be in dire straits.


Algonquin wolf © Lev Frid

Trouble Brewing

Under the guise of “enabling positive outcomes for species at risk” the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is reviewing the ESA. Allegedly responding to criticisms that the law is administratively burdensome and creates “barriers to economic development,” the government’s discussion paper is closely aligned with its broader “open-for-business” approach to governance.

Make no mistake: the ministry is inviting the public to consider options that, if passed, would undermine the very cornerstones of the law: science-based listing that includes Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, mandatory habitat protection, and legislated timelines for planning and reporting.

Such proposals are about deregulation and making it easier for industry and development proponents to destroy the habitats of endangered plants and animals.

Barn Owl (endangered) © Daniel Hebert

How You Can Help

Thank you for responding to our Action Alert. We had about 5,200 people speak up for species at risk and stronger environmental protections. The public comment period is now over and we await the government’s release of its proposed amendments to the ESA. Meanwhile, we continue to reach out to political leaders and MPPs to ensure our voice is heard. Subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on this issue.

  • Contact your MPP to express your support of at-risk plants and animals
  • Send a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local media expressing your concerns
Small white lady's slipper (endangered) © Justin Meissen

Why it Matters

We are now in the throes of the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago. Globally, almost one in eight birds, one in four mammals, and one in three amphibians are in jeopardy. Habitat loss and degradation, climate change, invasive species, pollution and overexploitation of natural resources are driving the decline.

In Ontario, there are over 230 plant and animal species that are at-risk of extinction or of disappearing from the province, a number which is growing every year. Their loss or decline affects the functioning and resilience of food webs and landscapes – jeopardizing the well-being of all living things, including humans.

Piping plover and chick (endangered) © Brendan Toews


Ontario’s decision to end hunting of snapping turtles in 2017 was a welcome move. Ontario lists the snapping turtle as a species of “special concern,” which means that although it is not yet endangered or threatened, a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats could endanger or threaten it. The government ended the legal hunting of snapping turtles because scientists and citizens demanded action.

Boreal caribou © Beezart