Did you know that nearly 60 species at risk may call Ottawa home? These plants and animals are considered by the provincial and/or federal government to be endangered, threatened or of special concern. Although some have not been seen here in many years, others are still widespread. Examples include the butternut (a tree endangered by a lethal fungal disease), the bobolink (a threatened grassland bird), and the snapping turtle (a species of special concern). Most species at risk live in fields, woods or wetlands, but others like the peregrine falcon and chimney swift can be found living on buildings downtown!
Endangered and threatened species and their habitat are protected under the provincial Endangered Species Act, 2007 and, in some cases, the federal Species at Risk Act. The Provincial Policy Statement and the Official Plan (Section 4.7.4) prohibit development or site alteration within areas of significant habitat for endangered or threatened species, and require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) [ PDF ] to demonstrate that no negative impacts will occur for development or site alteration adjacent to such habitat.
Species of special concern, the lowest risk category, may be protected under various existing laws (e.g., Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, Fisheries Act). Areas of significant habitat for species of special concern are protected under the Provincial Policy Statement and the Official Plan as significant wildlife habitat. Development and site alteration are not permitted within or adjacent to significant wildlife habitat unless an EIS demonstrates there will be no negative impact.
You can help protect species at risk by learning more about them, and reporting any sightings to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Kemptville District Office and central database. Our local Conservation Authorities are also looking for information about some species, such as butternut, various turtles, and American eels. Landowners who engage in stewardship of species at risk on their properties may qualify for provincial tax incentive programs or funding for projects that benefit the species.
For more information about species at risk, please refer to the following web sites: