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Canada Species at Risk Act Permit (12-CAN-d)

Information current as of 2019
In Canada, a person (developer) may need a Species at Risk Act Permit (Permit) from "the competent minister" or minister with jurisdiction (Parks Canada Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and/or Environment and Climate Change Canada) for projects that may "kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a wildlife species that is listed as an extirpated species, an endangered species or a threatened species" or damage their habitat. S.C. 2002, c. 29, ss. 32(1), 33, 73(1). The listed species can be found in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act, S.C. 2002, c. 29. S.C. 2002, c. 29, s. 2(1), Schedule 1. A Permit for a proposed activity that could affect a listed species may only be issued if the proposed activity falls into at least one of three categories:
  • The activity is scientific research relating to the conservation of the species and conducted by qualified persons;
  • The activity benefits the species or is required to enhance its chance of survival in the wild; or
  • Affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity.

S.C. 2002, c. 29, s.73(2).


The following terms are defined in the Act:

Aquatic species means a wildlife species that is a fish, as defined in section 2 of the Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-14, or a marine plant, as defined in section 47 of that Act.

Competent minister means


Critical Habitat means the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species' critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species.

Extirpated species means a wildlife species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada but exists elsewhere in the wild.

Endangered species means a wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

Federal lands means:

  • Land that belongs to Her Majesty in right of Canada, or that Her Majesty in right of Canada has the power to dispose of, and all waters on and airspace above that land;
  • The internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada; and
  • Reserves and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band under the Indian Act, and all waters on and airspace above those reserves and lands.


Habitat means

  • In respect of aquatic species, spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply, migration and any other areas on which aquatic species depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes, or areas where aquatic species formerly occurred and have the potential to be reintroduced; and
  • In respect of other wildlife species, the area or type of site where an individual or wildlife species naturally occurs or depends on directly or indirectly in order to carry out its life processes or formerly occurred and has the potential to be reintroduced.


Threatened species means a wildlife species that is likely to become an endangered species if nothing is done to reverse factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.

Wildlife species means a species, subspecies, variety or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and is native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.


Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Environment and Climate Change regulate the protection of listed species pursuant to the Canada – Species at Risk Act, S.C. 2002, c. 29.



Species at Risk Act Permit Process

12-CAN-d.1 – Determine Which Minister Has Jurisdiction

The developer must determine to which Ministry they should submit their Species at Risk Act Permit Application. If the species is found on federal lands that are administered by the Parks Canada Agency (PCA), including any fish or migratory birds, then the PCA issues the Permit. If the species is an aquatic species as defined in the Species at Risk Act, S.C. 2002, c. 29, other than aquatic species found on federal lands administered by the PCA, then Fisheries and Oceans Canada DFO issues the Permit. For any other species not already described, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issues the Permit. S.C. 2002, c. 29, s. 2(1); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 3.

12-CAN-d.2 to 12-CAN-d.3 – Species at Risk Act Permit Application

The developer should complete a Species at Risk Act Permit Application (Application) from the appropriate agency. Each agency may have specific procedures it requires when submitting an Application, so the developer may want to reach out to the agency before submission. Additionally, more than one of the three agencies may be involved depending on the circumstances, in which case the developer should submit a copy of the Application to each relevant agency. SOR/2013-140, s. 2(1); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, pp. 3–4. The Application must include information:

  • Demonstrating that the project falls into at least one of the three allowed categories of projects listed in s. 73(2) of the Species at Risk Act, S.C. 2002, c. 29;
  • Demonstrating that all reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted;
  • Demonstrating that all feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species, its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals; and
  • Describing any changes that the activity may cause to the listed wildlife species, its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals, the possible effects of those changes and the significance of those effects.

SOR/2013-140, s. 2(2)–(3); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, pp. 4–5.

The developer is also advised to provide the following in the Application to ensure its timely consideration:

  • Applicant's (developer's) contact information, including email address, physical address, and telephone number;
  • Applicant's (developer's) qualifications, demonstrating the necessary competency and knowledge to carry out the project, especially is the project involves scientific research or the handling of wildlife species;
  • Names of affected species;
  • Description and objective of the project;
  • Detailed location of the project, including maps, coordinates, or other similar documentation;
  • Start and end dates;
  • Descriptions of field collection methods, study techniques, project design, and animal handling activities;
  • Supporting documentation, which could include environmental assessments, industry standards, or research protocols;
  • Copies of other permits and authorizations when applicable;
  • Documentation in support of the project from any consulted groups, which could include First Nation and Band Councils;
  • Any information the applicant (developer) has on whether asserted aboriginal rights could be affected and any consultations completed to that effect; and
  • Any explanation of uncertainty associated with the impacts of the project on the species, its critical habitat, or the residences of its individuals and the effectiveness of any proposed mitigation measures.

Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 6.

12-CAN-d.4 to 12-CAN-d.7 – Review the Application for Completeness

The Agency with jurisdiction must review the Application for administrative and technical completeness. The Agency with jurisdiction does not consider the Application until it is complete and must notify the applicant (developer) if the Application is incomplete on receipt. Once the Application is complete, the Agency with jurisdiction must provide notice to the applicant (developer) acknowledging receipt. SOR/2013-140, s. 2(4), 3(2); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 5.

12-CAN-d.8 to 12-CAN-d.9 – Review Application for Approval

The Agency with jurisdiction must review the Application for approval within 90 days unless one of the following situations applies:

  • Additional consultations are required;
  • Another Act of Parliament or land claims agreement requires a decision be made before a permit is issued or refused, for example, in the case of an environmental assessment;
  • The terms and conditions of a permit previously issued to the applicant have not been met, for example, if required reports were not received;
  • The applicant requests or agrees that the time limit not apply; or
  • The activity described in the permit application is modified before the permit is issued or refused.

SOR/2013-140, s. 3(1), 3(3); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 5.

To approve an Application, the Agency with jurisdiction must find proof of all of the following preconditions:

  • All reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted;
  • All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species or its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals; and
  • The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

S.C. 2002, c. 29, s. 73(3); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 4.

If at any point during the 90-day review period the Agency or Agencies determine that they need additional information from the developer, the 90-day time period will be suspended until the Application is considered complete again. Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 6.

12-CAN-d.10 – Species at Risk Act Permit

The Species at Risk Act Permit includes terms and conditions that the developer must follow to avoid committing an offense under the Species at Risk Act, S.C. 2002, c. 29. The nature and extent of the terms and conditions varies with the severity of the potential impacts. S.C. 2002, c. 29, s. 75(1); Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 7.

The duration of a Species at Risk Act Permit is typically for the length of time that the Agency with jurisdiction determines that the developer can continue to meet the three required conditions under section 73(3) of SARA. In addition to those considerations, the Agency with jurisdiction can also consider the following factors:

  • Length of the permit duration being requested;
  • Duration of the activity;
  • Nature and purpose of the activity;
  • Current status of the species, its habitat and any broader ecological processes directly relevant to the species’ survival or recovery;
  • Terms of any other federal, provincial or territorial permits issued or being issued for the project;
  • Status and sensitivity of the ecosystem where the activity is taking place;
  • Cumulative effects of the proposed activity or other activities affecting the same species; *Tracking or monitoring systems in place to track the impact of the activity;
  • Potential effect to the species including life cycle of the species – temporal and spatial scale and capacity of the species to recover;
  • Timeline alignment with other tools such as recovery strategies and action plans; and
  • Reporting and monitoring conditions that allow for action based on monitoring results.

Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, pp. 6–7.

If the Permit is not granted, the Agency with jurisdiction provides the developer with written reasons for the denial. There is not a formal appeal process for Species at Risk Act Permits, but the developer is invited to discuss any decision with the regional office of the Agency with jurisdiction. Guidelines for Permitting Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act, p. 9.


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