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COSEWIC Annual Report 2003

Part 1


November 25-29, 2002 meeting


General Information

The fall, 2002, meeting of COSEWIC took place at the Cartier Place Suite Hotel, Ottawa, Ontario, chaired by Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet.

All members were in attendance. World Wildlife Fund Canada, Canadian Nature Federation and Canadian Wildlife Federation attended the meeting as continuing observers.

Workshop/Presentation/Special Meeting

On November 25 during the afternoon a Workshop entitled "Approaches to Status Assignments Below the Species Level" took place. All members were in attendance as well as a number of observers. Several presentations were made by members and invited guest speakers.

On November 26 in the evening, a meeting took place between members of COSEWIC as well as some observers at the Species Assessment Meeting, Lynda Maltby, director of the Species at Risk Branch of the Canadian Wildlife Service and two representatives of the Canadian Wildlife Directors' Committee (CWDC), Bruce Morgan, British Columbia and Steve Bowcott, Ontario. Marco Festa-Bianchet, chair of COSEWIC, was invited to attend part of a meeting of the CWDC during the week of February 10, 2003 in Victoria, British Columbia, to address mutual concerns with the CWDC as well as other issues which arose during the course of the Species Assessment Meeting held that week.

On November 27 in the evening, members/observers attended an interesting and informative presentation by Steve Carr on the "Use of Molecular Genetics to Identify Taxonomic Units".

Approval of Changes to Membership

It was decided that following public calls for membership in Species Specialist Subcommittees (with the exception, of course, of co-chairs) renewals/new member selections will be recorded in the minutes of the Co-chairs Subcommittee meeting and that it was not necessary for these changes to be provided to the full committee.

Note: A reallocation of responsibilities for the Plants & Lichens Specialist Subcommittee was announced. Erich Haber will be responsible for all vascular plants and René Belland will not only handle mosses but will also be responsible for lichens.

The following committee members were recommended for approval for a four-year term effective January 1, 2003:

Species Specialist Subcommittee co-chairs

Following a public call for members and submission by the chairs of Selection Committees of top candidates where there were more than one applicant, the members voted either by e-mail or at the full committee meeting with the following results:

Marty Leonard is the new co-chair of the Birds Specialist Subcommittee.
Gerry Mackie, renewed as co-chair for Molluscs of the Lepidopterans & Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee
Ron Brooks, renewed as co-chair of the Amphibians & Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee.

Non-government Member
Steve Carr, renewed.

Jurisdictional Members
Juanita Ptolemy, new alternate from British Columbia.
Gilles Seutin (formerly alternate), now member from Parks Canada.
Earl Wiltse, (member from Saskatchewan) announced he will no longer be the member.
Irene Bowman announced that she will be retiring from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and as COSEWIC member from Ontario).

The above membership changes/renewals are herein submitted for your recommendation to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC).

A schedule of renewal dates for jurisdictional members was circulated and Marco stated that this process needs to be clearly defined.

Organization and Procedures Manual - Version # 17

  • Steve Brechtel, outgoing chair of the Organization & Procedures Manual Working Group attended to present this version. Marco thanked Steve for his hard work and dedication to this task. The members of the working group, Michael Bradstreet, Ron Brooks, Joe Brazil and Ruben Boles, were also thanked.
  • Steve stated that the working group built on the work of many people, first Bob Campbell and then Theresa Fowler and for two and a half years tried to pull together existing practice, make improvements and put together a cohesive text.
  • Steve recommended that a permanent subcommittee be set up with least one jurisdictional member, one co-chair and one non-government member and someone from the Secretariat as ex officio allowing the manual to continue to evolve without taking up too much time at future meetings.
  • Michael Bradstreet was chosen as chair of the Organization & Procedures Manual Subcommittee which will include the following members: Ron Brooks, Jake Rice, Siu-Ling Han, Lynda Maltby and someone from the Secretariat as ex officio.
  • The subcommittee was charged to begin working under its Terms of Reference to monitor operations and procedures of COSEWIC, identify opportunities to improve efficiency and/or compliance with appropriate guidelines and policies and propose changes as appropriate.

Terms of Reference for COSEWIC

Some modifications to the Terms of Reference (ToR) were discussed and a further draft of the revised ToR was circulated after the meeting for review/comment by members.

Reports from Existing Ad Hoc Working Groups

a) Instructions to Authors Working Group (WG)

Gerry Mackie, chair, provided a revised draft for review along with eight motions which were approved. The WG will finish these Instructions for the spring, 2003 Species Assessment Meeting.

b) Intellectual Property (IP) WG

Ruben Boles gave a presentation on IP matters after which it was agreed that status reports will now undergo an additional step wherein the draft report will be revised by the report writer who will produce a "background report". A second contract will then be issued, possibly to the same individual who wrote the draft report, to produce the interim report.

c) Taxonomic Coverage within COSEWIC WG

Gerry Mackie, chair, provided a report following which it was recommended that a new Species Specialist Subcommittee (SC) be added to COSEWIC resulting from the separation of the current Lepidopterans and Molluscs SC into Molluscs as one separate SC and Lepidopterans being included in a new SC for Arthropods. This will create one additional vote and two additional co-chairs.

d) Guidelines for Data Deficient WG

Following discussion, David Green was charged to provide by e-mail appropriate wording for further review/comment.

New Ad Hoc Working Groups Established

a) Template for Technical Summary WG

David Green, chair and Gerry Mackie.

b) Habitat and Threats WG

Jake Rice, chair, Erich Haber, Gerry Mackie and Gina Schalk (Secretariat). It was suggested that this Working Group liaise with someone from the Recovery Secretariat as a succinct identification/reporting of threats is very important for recovery purposes. The Chair of COSEWIC and the Chair of RENEW (Lynda Maltby) are to meet to discuss how the two committees can better liaise.

c) Designatable Units WG

Gilles Seutin, Sherman Boates, Howard Powles, David Green, Suzanne Carrière, Jeff Hutchings, Mart Gross are to provide wording for the O & P Manual under guidelines for listing units below the species level. Marco suggested that this working group should liaise with the Ecozones Working Group.

d) Ecozones WG

Bob Campbell, chair, Maureen Toner, Rosemary Curley, Howard Powles, Gilles Seutin, Tom Jung, Andrew Trites or Hal Whitehead, Gerry Mackie, someone from the Secretariat, Mart Gross (unsure).

e) Criteria for Delisting WG

Dave Fraser, chair, Lucie Métras, Al Dextrase, David Green, Sherman Boates.

f) Long Term Planning WG

Jim Duncan, chair, René Belland, Suzanne Carrière, Tom Jung, Dave Fraser, someone from Secretariat.

Report from the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee.

Henry Lickers, interim Co-chair of the ATK Subcommittee advised as follows:

  • There was a good meeting with the Aboriginal Working Group (AWG)
  • It was decided to retain the word "Recovery" in the ATK Terms of Reference (ToR) because native groups feel that recovery is very important.
  • The AWG is looking across the country for people to serve on the ATK Subcommittee.
  • They are also trying to decide who will be other co-chair.
  • They think it is a good idea to meet with the WMBs, COSEWIC and the Recovery Secretariat.
  • The AWG hope that by the next meeting, they will have people who can provide advice - contacts within each major ecozone of Canada.

David Green added that reference to Recovery in the ToR of the ATK Subcommittee will allow them to obtain information about assessment and recovery all at once rather than contacting the elders twice).

Emergency Assessments

A request for an emergency status assignment for two populations of sockeye salmon. (Cultus Lake population and Sakinaw Lake population) was received. An emergency assessment subcommittee was struck comprised of Marco , Mart Gross, Richard Haedrich, Bob Campbell as co-chairs of the Marine and Freshwater Fishes Specialist Subcommittees, Howard Powles, Dave Fraser, Theresa Fowler as jurisdictional members and Henry Lickers from the Aboriginal Traditional Knowlege (ATK) Subcommittee because of the importance of salmon to native groups. The request was evaluated during a teleconference that first determined the eligibility and need for emergency assessment. The status of "endangered" was given to both populations on October 24, 2002. The assessments were based on two excellent reports prepared by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans and the Emergency Assessment Subcommittee commented on the good information provided. Mart Gross is having these reports converted to COSEWIC reports to be considered at the spring meeting in Whitehorse at which time they will be reassessed.

Request for Reassessment of four species from Ontario

Prior to the scheduled status assessments, Irene Bowman (member from Ontario) moved that COSEWIC reassess the following four species which were assigned status at the prior spring meeting of COSEWIC. At the prior meeting, no member was present from Ontario due to the provincial public service strike. Justifications were provided by Irene Bowman for each request but following discussion, COSEWIC decided not to reassess these species at this time and provided the following recommendations:

1) Climbing Prairie Rose
Recommendation - That Ontario provide to the Plants & Lichens Specialist Subcommittee an addendum or update report incorporating new information so that the species could come back as soon as possible (maybe at the spring 2003 meeting).

2) Lakeside Daisy
Recommendation: That the chair of the Plants & Lichens Specialist Subcommittee further discuss with Ontario the concerns addressed regarding this report.

3) Grey Fox
Recommendation: That the chair of the Terrestrial Mammals Specialist Subcommittee accelerate the process of revisiting this species.

4) Stinkpot
Recommendation: That Ontario discuss this matter further with the Amphibians and Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee.

See Appendix I.

Press Release
See Appendix II.

Other Business

Some discussion took place regarding the definition of observer status at a meeting indicating that anyone who is not a voting member or required secretariat staff is an observer. Marco suggested that the status of Lynda Maltby, director of the Species at Risk Branch (which includes the COSEWIC Secretariat) of the Canadian Wildlife Service should be normalized as "ex officio". There was general agreement with this but it was felt that some appropriate wording needs to be developed to be subsequently discussed and recommended for approval. Marco was charged to come up with some appropriate wording for further discussion.

Other Scheduled Meetings, Etc.

  • Marco was invited to meet with the CWDC February 12, 2003 in Victoria.
  • Marco and some members of COSEWIC will meet with the Fisheries Council of Canada and the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council in the afternoon of January 13, 2003 at Place Vincent Massey, Hull (Gatineau) to discuss some issues and concerns from these two organizations.
  • Marco to co-chair with Bob Stevenson a meeting of COSEWIC members and members of the AWG March 8, 2003 at the Odawa Centre in Ottawa to discuss the ATK Terms of Reference.
  • A Workshop with WMBs and COSEWIC to take place April 26-27, 2003 immediately prior to the next COSEWIC Species Assessment meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon. This workshop is scheduled as an opportunity to meet face to face to see how COSEWIC can continue to work together with WMBs.

Next Species Assessment Meeting

April 28 - May 2, Whitehorse.