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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Red Knot in Canada

Existing Protection or Other Status Designations

The Red Knot rufa subspecies has been designated a “candidate” species for Endangered Species Act protection by the USF&WS. This decision acknowledges that protection of the Red Knot is warranted but precluded by other, higher priority activities. The Red Knot was the subject of a petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the species as endangered and a request for an emergency listing under the Endangered Species Act (Delaware Riverkeeper Network et al. 2005). In the USA, the Red Knot rufa subspecies is listed as Threatened in the state of New Jersey and as a species of Special Concern in Georgia (Niles et al. 2005). In 2004, the Canadian Arctic-Atlantic Coast population of Red Knots was listed as Highly Imperiled in an update to shorebirds considered of High Priority in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan (US Shorebird Conservation Plan 2004).

In 2005, rufa was added to Appendix 1 of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS, or “Bonn” Convention; CMS 2005); this Appendix I lists migratory species threatened with extinction. The NatureServe website (October 2005) lists the population of C. c. rufa, globally as G4T1, or critically imperilled globally at the subspecies level, and nationally as N1N, or critically imperiled in its non-breeding range in the USA, and as N1B and N1N, or critically imperiled in both the breeding and non-breeding ranges in Canada (NatureServe 2006). Individual state and provincial/territorial assessments listed by NatureServe are shown in Table 4.

Table 4: NatureServe Categories for Red Knots rufa Subspecies in US States and Canadian Provinces (NatureServe 2006)
CategoryUSA, no. of statesCanada: no of provinces or territories
S1: critically imperiled4 (DC, OK, VA, WI) 
S2: imperiled5 (AK, DE, MA, MS, TN)2 (NB, PE)
S3: vulnerable8 (AL, GA, ME, NJ, NC, RI, TX, WA)3 (NL, NS)
S4: apparently secure2 (LA, WY) 
S5: secure1 (OR)1 (SK)
Other: not applicable, etc.22 (AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NE, NH, NY, ND, OH, PA, SC, SD, UT)7 (AB, BC, MB, NT, NU, ON, QC)

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Red Knots on a worldwide basis as being of Least Concern (BirdLife International 2004), but this assessment clearly does not take into account the status of the various subspecies and biogeographic units of Red Knots and is thus of very limited use in terms of conservation of biodiversity on a national, state, provincial, or regional level. C. c. islandica is given an Amber listing in the U.K., Concern listing in Europe and Least Concern listing Globally by the British Trust for Ornithology.