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Species at Risk Committee Assesses the Status of Hairy Braya and Red-sided Garter Snake

2024 SARC Assessments

The Northwest Territories (NWT) Species at Risk Committee (SARC) met in Fort Smith from April 24-26, 2024, to assess the biological status of two NWT species. Hairy braya was reassessed as required under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act. Red-sided garter snake was assessed for the first time in the NWT. 

SARC conducts detailed status assessments every year to determine if species are in danger of disappearing from the NWT. Assessments are based on the best available information from Indigenous and community knowledge, and scientific knowledge. 

In 2024, the status assessments for the two species highlighted the impacts of climate change on habitat at both the northern and the southern extents of the NWT. 

SARC 2024 Species Status Assessments Summary

Table - 2024 Assessments


Hairy braya is a rare flowering plant found nowhere else in the world except on the Cape Bathurst Peninsula and Baillie Islands, NWT. It was reassessed as Threatened in the NWT, owing to the species' limited range, specialized habitat requirements and coastal erosion due to climate change.

Red-sided garter snake is the only reptile known to occur in the NWT. This subspecies of garter snake is at the northern limit of its range and was assessed as a species of Special Concern in the NWT. This reflects the relatively small area of the NWT where the species occurs and the increasing threats of drought and wildfires linked to climate change.

"This is a new era for our land and wildlife. With climate change, things are changing rapidly. We need to work together to find ways to monitor and maintain the land for the people. That includes gathering and recording more Indigenous knowledge about what is happening out there and the impacts to species and their habitat. We need everyone’s help."

  -- Leon Andrew, Chairperson, NWT Species at Risk Committee

Based on these recent assessments, SARC has made several recommendations, including:

  • More Indigenous, community and scientific knowledge is needed to understand hairy braya, its distribution and abundance, and changes to its habitat.
  • Canada and the NWT must uphold and, if possible, exceed international climate change agreements including reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the local level. Climate change in the NWT must be addressed by implementing the 2030 NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework and Action Plan.
  • There is an urgent need to collect information on all aspects of red-sided garter snake biology, habitat and threats—in particular, the impacts of recent wildfires in the NWT. More Indigenous and community knowledge about this species is also needed.
  • Create a red-sided garter snake working group where interested members of the public and others can meet, collect and share information on red-sided garter snakes.

SARC will present its assessments and recommendations to the Conference of Management Authorities (CMA) in May 2024. The CMA will engage with NWT communities and decide if hairy braya should continue to be listed as a Threatened species in the NWT and whether the red-sided garter snake should be added to the NWT List of Species at Risk as a species of Special Concern.

The full 2024 assessments with recommendations can be found here:

Photos: Red-sided garter snake, Karl Larsen; Hairy braya, Paul Sokoloff