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Species at Risk Processes


In our daily lives, we can all choose to do things that help species at risk recover, and that help prevent other species from becoming at risk. There are many ways that NWT residents can act as stewards of the land, animals and plants. Some of the things that people can do cost money, and there are sources of funding available (click here for more information).


To find out if a species is in danger of disappearing, a detailed assessment of its biological status must take place. The assessment is done by a committee of experts using an independent, transparent process. Using the best available Indigenous knowledge, community knowledge and scientific knowledge, each species is assigned to a status category that tells us about its level of risk. Categories of species at risk are: Extinct, Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern (click here to find out what these categories mean).

Status in the NWT is determined by the NWT Species at Risk Committee (SARC) using a unique dual assessment process. Status in Canada is determined by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Based on their assessments, these advisory groups make recommendations on the legal listing of species at risk.


The territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) both apply in the NWT. Each has a legal list of species at risk: the NWT List of Species at Risk (territorial) and SARA Schedule 1 (federal). Decisions on whether to add a species to the list are made after consultation and take socio-economic factors into account. For the NWT List of Species at Risk, the decisions are made by the Conference of Management Authorities. For SARA Schedule 1, the decisions are made by the federal government.

Management, conservation and recovery

Once a species is legally listed, a management plan or recovery strategy is required. Goals are set for the management or recovery of that species, and actions are identified to meet these goals. Regulations may also be put in place to protect the species or its habitat. Under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act, these regulations are developed on a species-by-species basis anytime after assessment, following the appropriate consultation (click here for more information). Under the federal Species at Risk Act, some protective regulations come into force automatically as soon as the species is listed (click here for more information).

For a list of NWT management plans and recovery strategies, click here.

Reporting and review

Every five years, the governments and organizations responsible for an NWT species at risk must report on their progress. They publish a report with all the actions they have taken in those five years to meet the objectives of the management plan or recovery strategy. They also review the plan or strategy to make sure it continues to meet their needs to manage or recover the species. For a list of all NWT progress reports, click here.


The status of species can change over time. Species at risk are usually reassessed every 10 years, if not sooner, to see if their status has changed. The reassessment can also lead to a change in listing. Under the Species at Risk (NWT) Act, a listing lasts for 10 years.