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Recovery Strategy for the Horned Lark strigata subspecies (Eremophila alpestris strigata) with consideration for the Vesper Sparrow affinis subspecies (Pooecetes gramineus affinis) in Canada (Proposed)

Horned Lark strigata: Randall Moore

Horned Lark strigata subspecies and
Vesper Sparrow affinis subspecies


July 2007


Responsible Jurisdictions
Strategic Environmental Assessment

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is“to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.”

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARAoutline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat (http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/recovery/).

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2007. Recovery Strategy for the Horned Lark strigata subspecies (Eremophila alpestris strigata) with consideration for the Vesper Sparrow affinis subspecies (Pooecetes gramineus affinis) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk ActRecovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. vii + 30 pp.

Additional copies:

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry.

Cover illustration: Horned Lark strigata: Randall Moore

Également disponible en français sous le titre :

« Programme de rétablissement de l’Alouette hausse-col de la sous-espèce strigata (Eremophila alpestris strigata) considérant aussi le Bruant vespéral de la sous-espèce affinis (Pooecetes gramineus affinis) au Canada [Proposition] »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2007. All rights reserved.

ISBN To come

Catalogue no. To come

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


This recovery strategy has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions responsible for the Horned Lark strigata and the Vesper Sparrow affinis. Environment Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its recovery strategy for the Horned Lark strigata, as required under the Species at Risk Act. This strategy will also benefit the Vesper Sparrow affinis. This recovery strategy also constitutes advice to other jurisdictions and organizations that may be involved in recovering the species.

The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on the best existing knowledge and are subject to modifications resulting from new findings and revised objectives.

This recovery strategy will be the basis for one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation and recovery of the species. The Minister of the Environment will report on progress within five years.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of the Environment invites all responsible jurisdictions and Canadians to join Environment Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Horned Lark strigata and the Vesper Sparrow affinis, and Canadian society as a whole.

Responsible Jurisdictions

  • Environment Canada – Pacific and Yukon Region
  • Government of British Columbia
  • Parks Canada Agency


  • Suzanne Beauchesne – Western Wildlife Research
  • John Cooper – Manning Cooper and Associates
  • Kevin Fort – Canadian Wildlife Service


The authors would like to thank the members of the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team's Vertebrates at Risk Recovery Implementation Group for their ongoing work with respect to the conservation of the Horned Lark strigata and Vesper Sparrow affinis. We would also like to thank all the members of the Horned Lark strigata and Vesper Sparrow affinis Recovery Team for the invaluable contribution of their time and individual expertise. The Recovery Team also benefited immeasurably from the expertise of Recovery Team advisors Scott Pearson and Bob Altman. These two individuals have generously shared information from their research on these species in Washington and Oregon and have actively participated in team meetings and provided extensive reviews of earlier drafts of this document. We would also like to thank past and present managers of the Nanaimo Airport for granting access to the site and for their cooperation and assistance with vegetation management issues. Kevin Fort would also like to thank Lucy Reiss for providing constant guidance and insights on format, content, and SARA compliance policy through numerous drafts of this document.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.

This recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Horned Lark strigata and Vesper Sparrow affinis. The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects. The reader should refer to the following sections of the document in particular: Habitat and biological needs; Effects on other species; and Recommended approach for recovery implementation.


SARA defines residence as:

a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating [Subsection 2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry.


The Horned Lark strigata and the Vesper Sparrow affinis are migratory birds listed under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and are under the management jurisdiction of the federal government. The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species. The Horned Lark strigata was listed as Endangered under SARA in 2005. The Vesper Sparrow affinis was assessed as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in April 2006 and is currently under consideration for listing on SARASchedule 1 as Endangered. The Canadian Wildlife Service – Pacific and Yukon Region, Environment Canada, led the development of this recovery strategy in close cooperation with the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team's Vertebrates at Risk Recovery Implementation Group.

The recovery strategy was developed in cooperation or consultation with:

  • Government of British Columbia
  • Federal government – Canadian Wildlife Service (National Capital Region, Pacific and Yukon Region); Parks Canada Agency
  • Conservation organizations – Nanaimo Area Land Trust, American Bird Conservancy, Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team
  • Industry stakeholders – Vancouver Airport Authority, Nanaimo Airport
  • State of Washington (Department of Fish and Wildlife) via representation on the Horned Lark strigata and Vesper Sparrow affinis Recovery Team (advisors to the team).

This document was prepared in consultation with the authors of the State of Washington Range-wide Streaked Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata) Assessment and Preliminary Conservation Strategy (2005), as well as those of the Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (2006), to ensure no management conflicts.

Should the Vesper Sparrow affinis be added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act an updated recovery strategy for the Horned Lark strigata and the Vesper Sparrow affinis, or an addendum to this strategy, will be posted according to the timeline associated with the Vesper Sparrow affinis.

Should the Vesper Sparrow affinis not be added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act, the taxon will continue to be managed in accordance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and this recovery strategy document will continue to provide guidance on how the species could be managed.  In addition, recovery activities directed at the Horned Lark will consider the Vesper Sparrow affinis where management actions may affect both species or their habitat.

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