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Consultation Workbook on the Proposed Change in Status of the Lake Chubsucker on the List of Wildlife Species at Risk

Species at Risk Act

The Lake Chubsucker

Consultation Workbook on the addition of a species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk
November 2009

Aussi disponible en français

INTRODUCTION

Why are we asking for your feedback on the Lake Chubsucker?

The purpose of this workbook is to invite all Canadians to share their views on whether the status of the Lake Chubsucker should be changed from a Threatened species to an Endangered species (a higher risk category) under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The Workbook summary

This workbook is broken down into three parts.

Part 1 provides general background information on the federal Species at Risk Act, and explains how a species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, and what happens once that occurs.

Part 2 provides information about the Lake Chubsucker in Canada, and outlines its current “at risk” status.

Part 3 (detachable) consists of a questionnaire for you to complete and send to the federal government. It is intended to assist you in stating your concerns and advice.

This workbook can also be downloaded by visiting: www.registrelep.gc.ca/involved/consultation/default_f.cfm

Your view is important to us!

Your view on whether the status of the Lake Chubsucker should be changed to endangered on the SARA List of Wildlife Species at Risk is important to this consultation process. Your opinions will be carefully considered.

PART 1: The Species at Risk Act

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) became law on June 5, 2003. This federal legislation helps prevent Canada's wildlife species from becoming extinct. The Act sets out how the federal government will decide which species are in greatest need of protection and what it will do to protect those species. It identifies how governments, organizations and individuals can work together to protect plants and animals (including aquatic species), and it establishes penalties for failing to obey the Act.

Plants and animals protected under the Act are included in the SARA List of Wildlife Species at Risk. This inventory of protected species will be called the SARA List in the rest of this consultation workbook.

Who determines if a species is at risk?

The federal government will consider adding a species to the SARA List only if the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) considers a species at risk and recommends legal protection. COSEWIC is a legally recognized group of independent experts who use science and traditional knowledge to determine which species need added protection. These recommendations are formally presented to the federal government.

As part of the recommendations, COSEWIC places the species it considers to be at risk into one of five categories:

  • Extinct - A wildlife species that no longer exists.

  • Extirpated - A wildlife species that is no longer found in the wild in Canada but may be found elsewhere.

  • Endangered - A wildlife species that will likely soon become Extirpated or Extinct.

  • Threatened - A wildlife species likely to become Endangered if nothing is done to help protect it.

  • Special Concern - A wildlife species that may become Threatened or Endangered if nothing is done to help protect it.

Once the COSEWIC recommendations are received, the federal government Cabinet must decide if it will support, reject or send recommendations back to COSEWIC for further considerations. As part of the Cabinet consideration process, it must consider the views of Canadians, as well as the economic and social implications of protecting a species under SARA.

What happens once a species or population is added to the SARA List?

The amount of protection that SARA provides depends on its status in the above five At Risk categories.

It is illegal to kill, harm, harass, possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened species. It is also generally illegal to damage or destroy the places these species live. These prohibitions do not apply to species of Special Concern.

The Species at Risk Act is a federal piece of legislation. The responsible ministers are the Minister of the Environment, who is responsible for animals and plants found on federal lands, and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who is responsible aquatic animals. Under special circumstances, the Ministers may make exceptions to the above prohibitions. For example, a responsible minister can issue a permit that would allow a qualified scientist to carry out a research project that would likely benefit a listed species, but may require the collection of specimens, or a physical relocation from its current habitat. Exceptions can only be made if the minister is assured that the survival or recovery of the species will not be jeopardized.

Public Consultation

When deciding whether to add a species to the SARA List, the federal government must consider potential social and economic benefits and costs. It must also consider the potential consequences of not adding the species. To do this, government representatives meet with various organizations and members of the public who have a direct interest in the species or who wish to provide comments. This may include landowners, aboriginal groups, land users, wildlife management boards, non-government environmental organizations and industry. This consultation workbook provides another option to allow Canadians to provide their views to government.

Following the consultation period, the government carefully considers all comments it receives. Following this final consideration, the government must decide whether to add the species to the SARA List. Its decision is published in the Canada Gazette, Part II and on the SARA Public Registry.

Recovery strategies and management plans

If a wildlife species is added to the SARA List as an Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened species, the federal government must prepare a strategy for its recovery. The recovery strategy outlines known threats to the species, identifies the habitat it needs to survive, and highlights gaps in knowledge. It also sets a goal for the species’ recovery.

A recovery strategy must be completed within one year of a species being listed as Endangered, and within two years if it is Threatened or Extirpated.
If a wildlife species is considered Special Concern, the federal government must prepare a management plan within three years of the species being added to the SARA List. The management plan identifies conservation measures aimed at protecting the species and its habitat.

The recovery strategies and management plans are prepared in cooperation with directly affected groups, including wildlife management boards, Aboriginal organizations and provincial or territorial governments responsible for managing the species. Using public notices, letters and meetings, every effort is made towards consulting individuals, organizations and communities who may be directly affected by these strategies and plans.

When complete, the recovery strategy or management plan is posted on the online SARA Public Registry website, which provides information and documents about species at risk in Canada. Once posted, the public has 60 days to let the federal government hear its views. The government then has 30 days to consider any comments received, make any changes to the proposed recovery strategy or management plan, and post a final copy in the Public Registry.

Action Plans

After the final posting of the recovery strategy, one or more Action Plans are prepared. Action Plans identify ways to reduce threats to the species and protect its critical habitat, as well as other activities to be undertaken to support the recovery strategy. Action plans are prepared in cooperation with directly affected groups, including wildlife management boards, Aboriginal organizations and provincial or territorial governments responsible for managing the species. Using public notices, letters and meetings, every effort is made towards consulting individuals, organizations and communities who may be directly affected by these plans.

When the proposed action plan is completed, it is posted on the Public Registry for 60 days to allow the federal government to hear views of Canadians. After the 60 days, the government has 30 days to consider any comments received, make any changes to the action plan and post a final copy in the Public Registry.

For more information

Visit the SARA Public Registry (www.sararegistry.gc.ca) for more information on the Species at Risk Act and the various species that receive federal protection.

Additional information can be found on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Species at Risk website (www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/) and on the website of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) (www.cosewic.gc.ca).

Part 2: The Lake Chubsucker

Current COSEWIC Designation

1994: Designated by COSEWIC as “Special Concern”
2001: Re-evaluated and designated by COSEWIC as “Threatened”
2008: Re-evaluated and designated by COSEWIC as “Endangered”

Current SARA Listing Status

The Lake Chubsucker was placed on the federal SARA List as a “Threatened” species in June 2003.

As a result of COSEWIC reassessment of the Lake Chubsucker in 2008, the Government of Canada is presently considering whether to change this species status from Threatened to Endangered on the SARA List of Wildlife Species at Risk.

Species description

The Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta) is a member of the sucker family and has a wide head, blunt snout, and a small, protruding mouth. It is also characterized by dark-edged scales along its sides. Its back is deep olive to greenish-bronze. The underside is green-yellow to yellow-white. Ontario specimens seldom grow longer than 254 mm, but adults can reach 292 mm in length.

Where are Lake Chubsucker found?

Most of the existing Lake Chubsucker populations exist in the United States, with less than 5% occurring in Canada. Many of these populations are also under threat.

In Canada, the Lake Chubsucker is restricted to south-western Ontario in the Ausable River drainage, Lake St. Clair, Thames River drainage, coastal wetlands of Lake Erie and several tributaries of Big Creek and the upper Niagara River.

The Lake Chubsucker prefers clear, still waters with lots of vegetation. Such habitat can be found in backwaters, bayous, drainage ditches, floodplain lakes, marshes, oxbows, sloughs and wetlands. In Ontario, specimens are usually captured in heavily vegetated, stagnant bays, channels, ponds and swamps.

How many Lake Chubsuckers are there?

There have been no studies on the population size of the Lake Chubsucker in Canada, so it is difficult to determine numbers and population trends. However, based on the existing limited information, it appears that the population size is quite low.

Threats to the Lake Chubsucker

The Lake Chubsucker has a very specific habitat preference, and is already limited in its range. Threats to the Lake Chubsucker relate largely to the loss or changes to its habitat. Land use practises from urban development, industry and agriculture have led to high levels of silt and sediment entering the water resulting in increased turbidity (i.e. muddy waters). These changes have been directly linked to reductions in the Lake Chubsucker populations. Future development may negatively affect remaining Lake Chubsucker populations throughout southwestern Ontario.

What will happen if the Lake Chubsuckers?status is changed from Threatened to Endangered on the SARA List?

A status change will not trigger any new levels of legal protection under SARA. A recovery strategy is already in place for the species and will continue to be implemented. For more information on the provisions of the Species at Risk Act and the consequences of its implementation, please refer to Part 1 of this workbook.

Part 3: Let us know what you think

The following questionnaire invites you to reflect on the implications of changing the status of the Lake Chubsucker from Threatened to Endangered on the SARA List.

Your answers and comments will tell us what you think about the protection and recovery of this unique species, and especially about the possible effects of the decision to change its status on the SARA List.

If you wish to keep the other sections of this workbook, please feel free to detach them and return only the questionnaire.

Return the completed questionnaire or your comments by mail, fax or E-mail to the following address:

SARA Coordinator
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
501 University Crescent
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6

Email: fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Fax: 204 983-5192
Telephone: 204 984-0599
Toll-Free: 1-866-538-1609

Alternately, you can provide your views by visiting the Public Registry (www.sararegistry.gc.ca) and posting your comments.

Please submit your comments by January 15, 2010

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