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COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005

Appendix VII: Applications for Species Assessment and Unsolicited Species Status Reports(COSEWIC O&P Manual-Appendix F9)

Approved by COSEWIC in May 2004

Approved by CESCC in September 2004

Modifications Approved by COSEWIC May 2005[1]

All of COSEWIC’s actions are directed towards assessing the biological status of native wild species suspected of being at risk of extinction or extirpation across their range in Canada. COSEWIC uses the best available information relevant to assessing a species' risk of extinction or extirpation, which it may obtain from credible sources of knowledge of the species and its habitat. The evaluation process is independent and transparent, and the results are reported to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) and the Canadian public. COSEWIC is established under Section 14(1) of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and its assessments form the foundation for the legal List of Species at Risk under that legislation. Sections 21, 22 and 28 of SARA direct that COSEWIC will consider applications for the assessment of species and species status reports accompanied by applications for the assessment of species, subject to regulations.Any such application constitutes a request for assessment.

COSEWIC maintains and continually updates a Candidate List of species for commissioning Status Reports. Before preparing a request for assessment, potential applicants are asked to contact, via the COSEWIC Secretariat, the appropriate COSEWIC Species Specialist Subcommittee (SSC) or, in the case of a species not covered by any of COSEWIC’s nine SSCs, the Chair of COSEWIC. Potential applicants will be advised concerning the estimation of threats to the species in question, the imminence of the threats, the species’ current standing on COSEWIC’s Candidate List for assessment, valuable sources of information, and other advice concerning the preparation of a request for assessment and/or status report.

Requests for Assessment

Scope of Applications

Applications to COSEWIC may consist either of:

  • a request to COSEWIC to consider a particular species for assessment, or;
  • a request to COSEWIC to consider a particular species for assessment accompanied by Species Status Report that has not been solicited by COSEWIC.

COSEWIC’s usual approach to assigning status is, first, to examine a species as a whole. If deemed appropriate in cases where a single status designation for a species is not sufficient to accurately portray probabilities of extinction within the species COSEWIC will examine the status of entities below the level of species, be they subspecies, varieties, or geographically or genetically distinct populations (i.e. Designatable Units).

In cases where particular Designatable Units are strongly suspected of being at risk, or where they are so different in distribution or conservation status that an overall assessment would be of little value, COSEWIC will assess singleDesignatable Units below the species level.

Requests for Assessment
A Request for Assessment application may propose an eligible species or Designatable Unit for assessment.  A request for assessment of a subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population must contain a clear explanation of the validity of the Designatable Unit(s).
Species Status Reports
A Species Status Report must normally consider the whole of a species’ occurrence within Canada. Should a Species Status Report propose separate status designations for putative Designatable Units within the species in question, the report must contain clear explanations of the validity of the Designatable Units.

Species’ Eligibility

To be eligible for assessment, a species must meet certain criteria regarding taxonomic validity, native origin, regularity of occurrence, and dependence on Canadian habitat.  COSEWIC normally only considers species and subspecies or varieties that have been established as taxonomically valid. They must be native to Canada, occur regularly in Canada (thus excluding vagrants), and require habitat in Canada for at least one key life history stage. Any case that is an exception to these rules must be justified with supporting information; this should normally be reviewed and agreed to by COSEWIC before a status report is prepared. Ineligible species (for example domestic, feral, or artificially introduced species of animals and plants, or bacteria and viruses which are specifically excluded by SARA) cannot be assessed by COSEWIC.

Imminence of Threat

Species for which the threat of extinction or extirpation is extreme (e.g., greater than 50% probability of loss within 10 years) and for which immediate action is required if the species is to survive may be subject to emergency assessment. If an emergency assessment is requested, a full justification for considering the threat to be extreme must be provided. A status report is not required to accompany a request for an emergency assessment but is recommended. Applicants who wish to request an emergency assessment are strongly urged to contact COSEWIC and the appropriate SSC Co-Chair beforehand to determine if the emergency assessment is warranted.

Justification for the Request and Sources of Information

An explication of why the species might be considered to be at risk is required. This should indicate the nature of the particular threats to the species, population and distribution trends of the species, evidence of decline, and other estimations of its status in Canada including General Status of Species in Canada rankings and provincial or territorial rankings, etc. If there is more information than can be contained in three pages of text, a species status report should be prepared. Sources for the information contained in the justification for the request, be they published literature, unpublished reports, personal observations, or the observations of others, must be listed.

Conflict of Interest

Applicants for Species Status Assessment and suppliers of Species Status Reports for COSEWIC must declare any conflicts of interest pertaining to the application for assessment and its possible outcome (Annex I). Failure to do so may cause applications and reports to be returned unreceived by COSEWIC.

Species Status Reports

A Species Status Report for COSEWIC is a comprehensive, fully documented technical compilation and analysis of the best available information on a species’ status in Canada that indicates the threats to that species. A Species Status Report for COSEWIC must conform to the guidelines for preparation of Status Reports.

Waiver of Moral Rights and Permission to use Species Status Report

Authors and owners of Species Status Reports must grant permission to COSEWIC and to Environment Canada to use, edit, reformat, reproduce, modify, distribute, and share the Species Status Report and any subsequent revisions to that Report by the author. Authors furthermore must provide Environment Canada with a waiver of their moral rights to the Species Status Report. A separate waiver is required from each contributing author. The permission to use the Species Status Report and the waiver of moral rights enable COSEWIC and Environment Canada to treat the final COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report as a living document subject to periodic updates as may be required without having  to specifically name the author of the original Species Status Report. 

Accordingly, legal owners of a Species Status Report must sign a copy of Annex II (Permission To Use Species Status Report) and each author of a report must sign a copy of Annex III (Waiver of Moral Rights) . Failure to include signed copies of Annexes II and III with a Species Status Report that accompanies an Application for Assessment may cause the report to be returned unreceived by COSEWIC. 

Employees of the Government of Canada who prepare Species Status Reports are not required to tender the permission in Annex II as the report is automatically the property of the Crown. Employees of a province or territory who prepare Species Status Reports may or may not be required to provide Annex II and should contact the COSEWIC Secretariat (cosewic/cosepac@ec.gc.ca).  Author(s) who are government employees are, however, still required to sign the waiver in Annex III.

Completeness of Applications

An Application for Assessment that is incomplete cannot be considered by COSEWIC and will be returned. An application must contain:

  • A completed application form “Request for Assessment”, signed and dated, that includes a justification for why the species may be at risk of extinction
  • Annex I (Conflict of Interest), completed and signed separately by all applicants

If the Application also includes a Species Status Report, it must also include:

  • A Copy of Annex II (Permission To Use Species Status Report), signed by all copyright owners (ordinarily the authors) with regards to  the Status Report
  • Copies of Annex III (Waiver of Moral Rights) signed by each of the authors of the Status Report

An Application for Assessment that is complete but is accompanied by a Species Status Report that is not acceptable may be considered by COSEWIC only on its merits as a request for assessment of a particular species.

 

Submission of Applications

Applications for Assessment should be mailed to:

COSEWIC Secretariat

c/o Canadian Wildlife Service

Environment Canada

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3

attn: the appropriate Species Specialist Subcommittee or the Chair of COSEWIC

(courier address: Vincent Massey Bldg., 4th floor - 351 St. Joseph blvd, Gatineau, Quebec, J8Y 3Z5)

Process

Applications for Assessment, including Applications that are accompanied by an unsolicited Species Status Report, will initially be considered by the appropriate SSC or, in the case of a species not covered by one of COSEWIC’s nine SSCs, an ad hoc subcommittee struck by the Chair of COSEWIC.

An Application for Assessment that is not accompanied by a Species Status Report may be forwarded to COSEWIC by the SSC or ad hoc subcommittee with a recommendation and may be received by COSEWIC for consideration at a Species Assessment Meeting. If accepted, the application will be referred to the COSEWIC Co-chairs subcommittee for placement on the COSEWIC Candidate List and assigned a priority level for commissioning a Status Report.

A Species Status Report that accompanies an Application for Assessment is first evaluated by the appropriate SSC or ad hoc subcommittee. A Status Report that is complete and in conformity to the guidelines for completion of Status Reports, as judged by the SSC or ad hoc subcommittee, will be subjected to review in compliance with normal COSEWIC procedure for all status reports. A valid Status Report will be forwarded to the relevant jurisdictions (including, as necessary, any relevant Wildlife Management Boards) and the COSEWIC ATK Subcommittee for review during the draft and interim report stages. The report will be distributed to all members of COSEWIC two months prior to a Species Assessment Meeting accompanied by a copy of the Application, a Technical Summary prepared by the SSC or ad hoc subcommittee, and a recommendation from the SSC or ad hoc subcommittee. Throughout this review process, the author(s) of a Species Status Report may be asked to make editorial changes, add available information, and/or delete inapplicable sections of the report. Failure to comply with such requests may result in a report being deemed unacceptable.

The application and report will only be received for consideration by COSEWIC at a Species Assessment Meeting.

An Application for Assessment that is complete but is accompanied by an unsolicited Species Status Report that is incomplete or not in conformity to the guidelines for completion of status reports as judged by the SSC or ad hoc subcommittee, or is unaccompanied by a waiver of moral rights and a grant of permission to use the Species Status Report may be considered by COSEWIC as though only a Request for Assessment without a status report. In this case, the Species Status Report will be returned unreceived by COSEWIC. The Applicant will have the option either to proceed with the Request for Assessment without the Status Report or withdraw the Application in order to revise the report.

An Application for Assessment that requests an emergency assessment is first examined by COSEWIC through a subcommittee consisting of the Chair of COSEWIC and others including the appropriate SSC, and COSEWIC members from the appropriate range jurisdictions. If there is unanimous agreement that there is insufficient evidence that emergency conditions exist or that the Application is otherwise unsuitable, then the application is declined. If the application is acceptable, the Chair notifies the Federal Minister of Environment, CESCC, and COSEWIC members that an emergency assessment is being undertaken. The Chair then establishes an ad hoc Emergency Assessment Subcommittee consisting of the Chair of COSEWIC, the appropriate Subcommittee Co-chair(s), the relevant jurisdictional member(s) of COSEWIC, and other member(s) of COSEWIC at the Chair’s discretion. Representatives from relevant Wildlife Management Boards may sit on the subcommittee as non-voting members. The Emergency Assessment Subcommittee will consider the imminence of the threats to the species and whether a status listing on an emergency basis is warranted. If the emergency listing is warranted, the Emergency Assessment Subcommittee will forward its recommendation to the federal Minister of Environment and advise COSEWIC. If the emergency listing is not warranted, the Application will be considered in the same manner as a regular request for assessment. 

Outcomes

1.  An Application for Assessment that is not accompanied by a Species Status Report or is accompanied by a Species Status Report that has been rejected (see 2 below) will either:

  • be accepted by COSEWIC and result in the species in question being placed on the Candidate List and assigned a priority level for commissioning a Species Status Report. Priority level will be determined by COSEWIC on advice from the appropriate SSC or ad hoc subcommittee, or;
  • be accepted by COSEWIC and result in the species in question being assigned a new level of priority for commissioning a species status report, or;
  • be rejected by COSEWIC either:
    • through a subcommittee of COSEWIC consisting of the Chair of COSEWIC and the members of the appropriate SSC following unanimous agreement that the application is unsuitable, or;
    • at a Species Assessment Meeting.

2. An unsolicited Species Status Report that accompanies an Application for Assessment will either:

  • be accepted by COSEWIC and result in the species in question being assessed by COSEWIC at a Species Assessment Meeting, or;
  • be rejected by COSEWIC either:
    • through a subcommittee of COSEWIC consisting of the Chair of COSEWIC and the members of the appropriate SSC following unanimous agreement that the application is unsuitable, or;
    • at a Species Assessment Meeting.

3. An Application for Assessment that requests an emergency assessment may either:

  • be rejected by COSEWIC through a subcommittee of COSEWIC consisting of the Chair of COSEWIC and others including members of the appropriate SSC and COSEWIC members from the appropriate range jurisdictions, following unanimous agreement that the application is unsuitable, or;
  • be accepted by the ad hoc Emergency Assessment Subcommittee and forwarded to the Minister of Environment with a recommendation, or;
  • be rejected by the ad hoc Emergency Assessment Subcommittee and considered in the same terms as any other request for assessment.

Applicants will be informed of the decision(s) made through the Chair of COSEWIC. For Applications resulting in an assessment or emergency assessment, COSEWIC will notify the applicant of the assessment and the reasons. For all rejected Applications, the reason for the rejection will be given. In these matters, the decision(s) as communicated by the Chair will be final for any particular Application.

 

Additional Information on the COSEWIC Website (http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/index.htm):

Attachments:

Application Form “Request for Assessment” (Required for all applications)

Annex I: Declaration of Conflict of Interest (Required for all applications)

Annex II: Permission To Use Species Status Report (To accompany status reports only)

Annex III: Waiver of Moral Rights (To accompany status reports only)



[1]. Under the section  Scope of Applications, in the first paragraph under the first two bullets, the word “usual” was added to the first sentence to better reflect COSEWIC practices regarding Designatable Units.   The second paragraph (beginning “In cases where…”) was added in for similar reasons.

Under the section Process, the sixth paragraph was expanded to more thoroughly explain the decision making process for emergency assessments.

Under the section Outcomes, bullets were added to explain how a report may be rejected.  The last paragraph was modified to clarify communication channels to the applicant.