Species at risk related legislation

Last updated on May 20, 2022

The following laws collectively govern how threats to species at risk and their habitats are managed in British Columbia. The B.C. legislation or regulation you are looking for can be found in Laws Publications – Government (bclaws.ca)

Species at risk related legislation

Wildlife Act

The Wildlife Act protects most all vertebrate animals from direct harm, except as allowed by regulation (e.g., hunting or trapping).

Under this legislation, vertebrate species, other than fish, can be legally designated as endangered or threatened – enabling the following additional protections:

  • Anyone who kills or harms an endangered or threatened species will receive penalties – conviction could mean a fine of $500,000 and three years in jail
  • Habitats for endangered or threatened species can be designated as Critical Wildlife Habitats in Wildlife Management Areas

The Wildlife Act also authorizes direct management of wildlife (e.g., translocation, predator control) or human activities (e.g., recreational vehicle closures) where it is necessary to achieve recovery objectives.

Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA)

Under FRPA’s Government Actions Regulations (GAR), wildlife may be identified as species at risk if they are endangered, threatened or vulnerable. Species that have been identified to date include those whose habitats may be impacted by forest or range practices.

Habitat for identified species at risk may be managed through the establishment of Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHAs) and General Wildlife Measures (GWMs) under the GAR – establishment is guided by the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy. General practice requirements for licensees and tenure holders operating in WHAs are outlined in three planning and practices regulations under FRPA.

More than 2,100 WHAs (covering 3,708,577 hectares in total) have been established for species and ecological communities that are listed as at risk under FRPA.

More about FRPA:

Provisions under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) have been amended under the Forest Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 23, 2021). For more information, click here.

Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA)

Similar to FRPA, wildlife species may be identified as at risk under the Environmental Protection and Management Regulation. OGAA includes the same species listed as at risk under FRPA, as well as the WHAs established under that Act. 

Government’s environmental objectives and species at risk habitat protection are considered in decisions made by the Oil and Gas Commission related to permit applications where permit activities intersect WHAs. Permit conditions can be applied comparable to General Wildlife Measures established under FRPA. More information can be found in the Environmental Protection and Management Guideline (BC Oil & Gas Commission, PDF, 1.4MB).

Ecological Reserves Act

Provides for the establishment and administration of ecological reserves. Ecological reserves are created for many reasons, including protection of at- risk species and/or their habitats. They are established by inclusion to the schedules of the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act or by order in council under the Act.

The Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation under the Park Act, which addresses management and  protection of park resources (general application), applies to ecological reserves as if they were parks under the Park Act.

The Ecological Reserve Regulations address additional restrictions in ecological reserves to ensure protection of the resources within. No provisions in these regulations are specific to species that have been assessed as at risk, or their habitats.

Park Act

Provides for the establishment, classification, and management of parks, conservancies, recreation areas, natural resources, and wildlife (and their habitats) in parks. The Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation addresses management and protection of park resources (general application).

Land Act

The Land Act can be used to establish map reserves to manage habitat or restrict activities that may be harmful to a species’ habitat. Land use orders or permits can be included as part of land use planning and strategic agreements.

Mineral Tenures Act

A reserve can be requested at this link to reserve mineral harvest from occurring in SAR habitat at the discretion of the Chief Gold Commissioner.


Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Protects federally listed species at risk from becoming extinct or lost from the wild. The Act covers all species that are listed as being at risk nationally and federally identified critical habitat). See the Species at Risk Public Registry for a list of species and documents.

Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA)

The purpose of this Act is to implement the Convention by protecting and conserving migratory birds — as populations and individ­ual birds — and their nests.

Migratory birds are jointly managed by the province, primarily federal. They include such species as: Ducks, Geese, Brant, Coots, Snipe, Mourning Doves and Band-tailed Pigeons and more. Ducks, geese, and all other migratory birds are under the mandate of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS).

The CWS is the agency that issues crop damage and scare permits for waterfowl. Additional information on migratory bird sanctuary regulations, hunting regulations, or hunting permits are also available. 

Fisheries Act

The purpose of this act is to provide a framework for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.  The act prohibits what’s known as HADD – the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat.


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

CITES is an international trade agreement that controls the international trade and movement of animal and plant species and their parts that have been, or may be, at risk due to international trade. 

CITES administration in B.C. is shared by federal and provincial governments. B.C. regulates trade in native animals – the federal government deals with non-native species, plants, and fishes. The Canadian Wildlife Service and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are responsible for managing CITES species federally.

British Columbia’s Conservation Officers enforce several provincial laws that help protect species at risk. In addition, federal wildlife and fisheries officers enforce laws that help protect species at risk that are under federal jurisdiction.