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COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005

Item I - COSEWIC Activities

1.  Species Assessment Meeting - Fall 2004

Date:  November 23-25, 2004

Location: Ottawa, Ontario


Members -   38 members/alternates

Secretariat Staff - 8

Observers -  14 (1 from WWF-Canada, 1 from Nature Canada, 3 students McGill University, 5 from the Canadian Wildlife Service, 1 from Parks Canada, 1 from Nature Serve Canada, 2 co-chairs elect).

Regrets - 2 members/alternates (Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon)

At the meeting of COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife inCanada) the committee members reviewed the conservation status of 20 wildlife species.

Other Business Items Of Importance:

Emergency Assessment  requests:

At that November 2004 meeting, the Chair advised members that, in May 2004, a request for emergency assessment for the Georgina Depression Marbled Murrelet was received.  The range jurisdictional members, the co-chairs of the Birds SSC and outside experts all agreed that this population was not a designatable unit and therefore no assessment was made. A response to this effect was provided by the Chair to the requester.

In addition, a new request for emergency assessment of the Sakinaw Lake population of Sockeye Salmon was received in November 2004. This request was discussed by COSEWIC and it was agreed that COSEWIC had already done its assessment and recommendation with respect to this population. A response to this effect was provided by the Chair to the requester.

Continuing Observer Status:

COSEWIC agreed to extend continuing observer status for the World Wildlife Fund Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation and Nature Canada for a further period of four (4) years effective May 2005.


As done in past years, COSEWIC held a teleconference at the end of its meeting with the Canadian Wildlife Directors and another one with the Wildlife Management Boards to inform all jurisdictions about the assessment results.

Operations and Procedure Manual (O&P Manual):

 At its November 2004, Assessment Meeting, COSEWIC agreed to work toward having  its O&P Manual published in the next year.

2.  Species Assessment Meeting - Spring 2005

Date:  May 2-6, 2005

Location: St. Pauls Inlet, Newfoundland and Labrador


Members -  43 members/alternates

Secretariat Staff – 7

Observers – 14 (6 from the Department of  Environment and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 from Canadian Wildlife Federation, 1 from Parks Canada, 2 from Canadian Wildlife Service, 1 from Guelph University, 1 from Nature Serve Yukon, 1 from the BC Conservation Data Centre, 1 from the B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and  Air Protection)

Regrets –1 member/alternate (Government of Yukon Territory)

Committee members reviewed the conservation status of 43 wildlife species, including the Emergency Assessment of the Chinook salmon, Okanagan population.


 As done in past years, at the end of each assessment meeting, COSEWIC held a teleconference with the Canadian Wildlife Directors and one with the Wildlife Management Boards to inform all jurisdictions about the assessments.

COSEWIC Non-government members:

COSEWIC decided to rename “non-government members” as “members at large” in all his communications.

Other Business Items Of Importance:

Emergency Assessment requests:

Northern Goshawk,laingi subspecies, Haida Gwai population,Acipiter gentilis laingi

During the May 2005 meeting, the Chair informed all members that, on April 26, 2005, a request for emergency assessment for the Northern Goshawk, laingi subspecies, Haida Gwai population, was received from John Brodhead, Gowgaia Institute. The Chair of COSEWIC, range jurisdictional members, the co-chairs of the Birds SSC and other members with ornithological and genetic expertise met and discussed the request on May 1, 2005.  Following this consultation, it was decided that the Chair of COSEWIC would write back to the applicant of this request, indicating that more information on the immediacy of the threat and about the distinctiveness of this population would be needed for COSEWIC to decide if an emergency assessment is warranted.  A letter to this effect was sent on May 10 by the Chair to the applicant.

Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha ( Okanagan population)

On March 26, 2005 the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada received a request for an Emergency Assessment of the Okanagan Population of Chinook Salmon from Mr. Howie Wright on behalf of the Okanagan Nation Alliance Fisheries Department. An emergency Assessment subcommittee was established and Minister Dion was informed. The Emergency Assessment Subcommittee held two teleconferences, evaluated the available evidence and contacted appropriate people to obtain further information, which was received from several sources.  The Emergency Assessment Subcommittee agreed to refer all the available documentation to COSEWIC in plenary.

On May 4, 2005, the full Committee examined the documentation provided and assessed that the available evidence clearly indicates that the conservation status of the Okanagan population of Chinook salmon warrants an Emergency Listing under Section 29(1) of SARA. Consequently, COSEWIC passed the following motion:

“The Okanagan Chinook salmon is facing an imminent threat to its survival, such that an Emergency Listing of the Species as Endangered is warranted”. COSEWIC informed Minister Dion and other appropriate jurisdictions of the results of the emergency assessment and publicly announced it in a press release on May 6. The Chair of COSEWIC also informed the applicant of the result of the request for an emergency assessment along with the reasons.

Marine Fishes Workshop( Halifax, NS, March 2-4, 2005)

 As requested by the Minister of the Environment, COSEWIC, jointly with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Environment Canada (EC) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, held a workshop to address concerns about the process that COSEWIC uses for assessing probability of extinction in marine species.

  • That workshop took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on 2-4 March 2005. It involved a variety of international experts on marine species and the use of quantitative criteria for assessing the conservation status of species, including representation from COSEWIC, DFO, EC, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, industry representatives, non-government organizations, IUCN and other international experts. The workshop participants provided their expert observations and made recommendations for consideration by COSEWIC.

The Report on the Marine Fish Workshop and Recommendations for COSEWIC is included as Appendix I of this annual report

3.  Summary Of Species Assessment Meeting

COSEWIC met in November 2004 and in May 2005 to assess or reassess the status of 63 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations). COSEWIC also made an Emergency Assessment on May 4, 2005. The species assessment results include the following:

Extinct: Lake Ontario Kiyi

Extirpated: Striped Bass, St. Lawrence Estuary population

Endangered: North Pacific Right Whale, Copper Redhorse, American Chestnut, Rusty Cord-moss, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Blanding’s Turtle, Nova Scotia population, Shortnose Cisco, Winter Skate, Southern Gulf population, Ottoe Skipper, White Flower Moth, Branched Phacelia, Dense Spike-primrose, Dense- flowered Lupine, Grand Coulee Owl-clover, Spalding’s Campion, White Meconella, Chinook Salmon, Okanagan population (submitted separately as an Emergency Assessment)

Threatened: Striped Bass, Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population, Striped Bass, Bay of Fundy population, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer, Dwarf Lake Iris, Hill’s Thistle, Macoun’s Meadowfoam, Showy Phlox, Alkaline Wing-nerved Moss, Bowhead Whale, Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population and Davis Strait-Baffin Bay population, Fin Whale, Pacific population, Blanding’s Turtle, Great Lakes population, “Eastslope “ Sculpin, St. Mary and Milk River populations, Black redhorse, Spotted Gar, Winter Skate, Eastern Scotian Shelf population, Verna’s Flower Moth, Baikal Sedge, Cliff Paintbrush, False Rue-anemone, Mountain Holly Fern.

Special Concern: Narwhal, Green Sturgeon, Bering Cisco, Western Yellow-bellied Racer,Red-legged Frog, Ancient Murrelet, Swamp Rose-mallow, Bowhead Whale, Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population, Fin Whale, Atlantic population, Grass Pickerel, Shortnose Sturgeon, Spotter Sucker,  Upper Great lakes Kiyi, Warmouth, Winter Skate, Georges bank-Bay of Fundy population, Hill’s  Pondweed, Houghton’s Goldenrod, Prototype Quillwort, Banded Cord-moss, Pigmy Pocket, Frosted Glass-whiskers, Nova Scotia population Moss


As of May 2005, the COSEWIC assessment results includes 465 species in various categories, including 184 endangered species, 129 threatened species and 152 species of special concern. In addition, 22 species are extirpated (no longer existing in the wild in Canada) and 13 are extinct.

Important To Note:

a)    At its May 2005 Assessment Meeting, COSEWIC assessed the status of Lake Sturgeon, Western populations as Endangered, Lake Sturgeon, Southern Hudson Bay and James Bay populations as of Special Concern, Lake Sturgeon, Great Lakes and Western St. Lawrence River populations as of Special Concern, and Lake Sturgeon, Rainy River –Lake of the Woods populations, as of Special Concern.

At the same meeting, COSEWIC assessed the Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Alberta population, as threatened and the Westslope Cutthroat Trout, British Columbia population, as special concern.

Even if COSEWIC has assessed the Lake Sturgeon(Acipenser fulvescens)and the Westslope Cutthroat Trout(Oncorhynchus clarkii lewesi), the status reports for these two species will only be finalized in May 2006. For this reason, COSEWIC is not submitting those status assessments for consideration for listing under SARA at this time.

b)    There are now 3 species from SARA's Schedule 2 left to be reassessed by COSEWIC by June, 2006, namely the Blackfin Cisco,Coregonus nigripinnis,   Deepwater Sculpin Great Lakes Population, Myoxocephalus thompsoni and Lake Erie Watersnake,Nerodia sipedon insularum. To ensure that COSEWIC has the time it requires for a thorough reassessment of the status of those 3 species, an extension order for one more year (until June 2007) is  requested.

See Appendix II for the COSEWIC Press Releases from the November 2004 and May 2005 Assessment meetings.

4.  Annual Species Specialist Subcommittees Meetings 

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee (ATK SC)

July 15, 2004


Membership: currently the subcommittee is composed only of its two (2) co-chairs as efforts to solicit nominations from several National Aboriginal Organizations are still underway.

Summary of key discussion items: The ATK Subcommittee co-chairs met with the technical representatives of the National Aboriginal Organizations and Marco Festa-Bianchet on July 15, 2004, in Ottawa, to develop criteria for ATK SC membership eligibility and an agreed process for member selection.

One of the ATK SC co-chair attended also two NACOSAR (National Aboriginal Council on Species at risk) development meetings in 2005 in Ottawa (January and February) and agreed to liaise/advise NACOSAR on ATK SC matters. Progress on establishing the full membership of the ATK SC is dependent on the establishment of NACOSAR itself.

Amphibians & Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee

October 8, 2004

Best Western Ville-Marie, Montreal

Members: 6 including 2 co-chairs   

Secretariat:  1

Observers:  several from McGill University

Regrets: Don Rivard, Steve Hecnar, Pat Gregory

Summary of key discussion items:ongoing reports in preparation for assessmentswere reviewed as well as candidate species.      

Other discussion items included the mapping problems and a plan to have a symposium on mapping and perhaps phylogeography. There was discussion about publishing a book on the amphibian and reptile COSEWIC reports. Various other announcements and SSC concerns were addressed and presented.

Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee

September 30-October 2, 2004

Embassy West Hotel, Ottawa

Members:  13 including the co-chair

Secretariat: 1

Observers:  1(Dr. Robert Anderson of the Canadian Museum of Nature attended on October 1st.)

Summary of key discussion items: availability of SSC annual meeting minutes/ drafted notes through access to information; process for unsolicited status reports; terms of reference for the ATK subcommittee; approval of Arthropods Subcommittee membership; concerns having one (1) SSC handling the immense variety contained within the arthropods (members reiterated the need for a future split along aquatic/terrestrial lines); recognition of need for field work; wording for the next call for membership; non-lepidopteran expertise within the current SSC membership; status reports in progress; newly commissioned status reports; new method of prioritizing species for the call for bids; whether early update for some species should requested; priority lepidopteran species for the next call for bids and justifications; and some suggested non-lepidopteran arthropods that may need consideration by the SSC. Six of the reports in progresswere discussed and status recommendations were made for these species. There were further discussions and changes to the prioritization scheme for butterflies. The next SSC meeting is planned for Fredericton, NB.

Birds Specialist Subcommittee

August 22-23, 2004

Laval University, St-Foy, Quebec

Members: 9 including 2 co-chairs

Secretariat: 2

Observers: Marcel Gahbauer from McGill University and Marylène Boulet from Université Laval.

Summary of key discussion items: An application for emergency assessment for the Marbled Murrelet, Georgia Depression population was discussed with the SSC membership; among the SSC and a number of other seabird experts consulted, there was a consensus that this was not a Designatable Unit under COSEWIC’s definition. COSEWIC sent a reply to the requester, explaining why the application could not be received.  SSC also discussed Status reports in preparation at length including a drafted unsolicited report on the Ivory Gull submitted by the Canadian Wildlife Service.  SSC members were updated on new status assessment procedures under SARA, particularly procedures for unsolicited reports and candidate species prioritization. The Secretariat reported on the ATK process in COSEWIC.  A SSC member gave a presentation on the use (and misuse) of survey data in species assessment.  A few species of concern were discussed in details for inclusion on the candidate list. There was also a long discussion of the candidate species list and prioritization methods.

Freshwater Fishes Specialist Subcommittee

September 11-13, 2004

Delta Winnipeg Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Members:  10 including 2 co-chairs

Secretariat: 1

Observers: 3

Summary of key discussion items: Eleven status reports were reviewed and technical summaries with SSC recommendations were prepared for species being assessed by COSEWIC in November 2004. The SSC priority list was reviewed and possible species for the next call for bids considered as well as a special project for the delineation of DUs for lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis). The next meeting is planned for the fall of 2005 in St.John’s, NL.

Marine Fishes Specialist Subcommittee

September 11-13, 2004

Delta Winnipeg Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Members:  12 including 1 co-chair

Secretariat: 1

Invited participants from COSEWIC: Lara Cooper (DFO), David Coffin (NL), Marco Festa-Bianchet (Chair)

Observers: Sandy Argue (BC Ministry of Agriculture), Michelle Herzog (University of Toronto), Patrick McGuiness and Rob Morley (Fisheries Council of Canada)

Summary of key discussion items:                                                

A great deal of progress was made at this meeting. The best methods for addressing population trends in marine fishes were discussed and plans were made for a more consistent methodology.   A draft Operations and Procedures Manual for Marine Fishes was discussed. The Candidate List was revised. New procedures for prioritizing, including the use of RAMAS Red List software, were discussed and two working groups (Atlantic and Pacific) were struck to complete the 2004-2005 prioritization. Progress was made in the development of Designatable Units for salmon. Progress was also made in the development of Marine Ecozones for listing purposes. Three reports were evaluated and a status recommended for COSEWIC. It was decided that four reports on Atlantic fish species would be retracted from the November 2004 COSEWIC meeting. Another report, the status report on the American Shad, is still at the draft report stage and the SSC has decided to put this report on hold until more information from ongoing studies becomes available.

Marine Mammals Specialist Subcommittee

October 9-10, 2004

Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, B.C.

Members:   10 including 2 co-chairs

COSEWIC Secretariat: 1

Observer: 0

Summary of key discussion items:  Reviewed and discussed designations made for harbour porpoise (Pacific population), Steller sea lions, and beluga whales by COSEWIC at its November 2003 and May 2004 meetings.  The subcommittee also received an update on SARA and COSEWIC procedures from the Secretariat. 

Status reports in preparation were discussed by the SSC members.  A progress report was given for a pending report on Atlantic harbour seals.

Prioritized species of marine mammals that were identified as requiring status reviews included the sea otter, Cuvier’s beaked whale, bearded seal, and all Mesoplodon beaked whale species.

One teleconference was held on October 19, 2004, to discuss information needed to assess the walrus.   Participants included SSC members and invited guests.

Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee

September 24-25, 2004

University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Members:  6 including 2 co-chairs

Secretariat: 1

Observers:  none

Regrets: Derek Davis, Mark Hanson, Glen Jamieson

Summary of key discussion items:  The subcommittee spent considerable time reviewing the new prioritization scheme and reviewing the species on the Mollusc candidate list.  Several species were removed and others were moved up the list. Seven species were recommended for assessment by COSEWIC.  SSC discussions included the need to update the list of landsnails in Quebec and Ontario and the difficulty to find a qualified person to do it. This is to be used for the Molluscs Candidate List as part of the work carried by the SSC.  The SSC is planning to meet in Burlington, ON in 2005.

Plants & Lichens Specialist Subcommittee

October 15-16, 2004

Pallisades Maclab Hotel & Resorts, Jasper, Alberta

Members:  18 including 2 co-chairs

Secretariat : 2

Observers : 0

Summary of key discussion items:

Vascular plants. The vascular plants specialists revised and updated the candidate list of 358 plants.

For the Mosses and lichens, a contract has been let to update two databases on rare mosses of Canada that will allow the SSC to prepare a prioritized candidate list for mosses in Canada. Completion of the work is anticipated for the fall of 2005. A work description for a similar contract for the lichens has been prepared and a call for bids for the project is planned.

 A request for the possible preparation of a status report on Seneca snakeroot (Polygala senega) was submitted by Saskatchewan Environment Resource Management due to the substantial collection of wild plants for the herbal trade that has been on-going in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The request was discussed and the decision taken not to propose this species for a national assessment. The species is widespread in eastern Canada and there is no biological or geographical basis for the distinction of the Saskatchewan and Manitoba populations as geographically distinct populations that would warrant recognition and assessment by COSEWIC. An answer to that matter was sent to the requester.

A total of 19 vascular plants status reports for COSEWIC assessment in November 2004 and May 2005 were reviewed and recommendations presented.

Next Annual Subcommittee Meeting

The next meeting is proposed for Fundy National Park, September 24-25, 2005.

Terrestrial Mammals Specialist Subcommittee

October 1, 2004

Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S.

Members:   7 including 2 co-chairs

Secretariat: 1

Observers:  10

Regrets: Dr. Judith L. Eger

Summary of key discussion items: The SSC reviewed the recent assessments by COSEWIC of five terrestrial mammals; discussed progress on status reports in preparation for five other species; decided for which species an update report should be commissioned in 2005 and 2006. The SSC is proposing to hold a teleconference in 2005 rather than a meeting. A request to assess the status of albino moose in a region of Ontario was unanimously rejected because these animals are not a distinct population. An answer to that matter was sent to the requester.