Legislation for Species at Risk

The following provincial and federal laws collectively govern how threats to species at risk and their habitats are managed in B.C.

Provincial legislation
Wildlife Act

Protects virtually all vertebrate animals from direct harm, except as allowed by regulation (e.g. hunting or trapping).

Under this legislation, any 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 protected as Critical Wildlife Habitats in Wildlife Management Areas

The Wildlife Act can also be used to authorize 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 the Government Actions Regulations of FRPA, wildlife may be identified as species at risk if they are endangered, threatened or vulnerable. Species at risk that have been identified to date include those whose habitats are likely to be impacted by forest or range practices.

Species at risk habitats may be managed through establishment of Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHAs) and General Wildlife Measures (GWMs) under the Government Actions Regulation – 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 2,104 WHAs (covering 3,708,577hectares in total) have been established for species and plant communities that are at risk.

Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA)

As under FRPA wildlife may be identified as species at risk under the Environmental Protection and Management Regulation. OGAA protects the same species at risk listed under FRPA, and 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 (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 or their habitat. They are established by inclusion to the schedules of the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act or by order in council under the Ecological Reserves 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 in an ecological reserve.

No provisions in these regulations target species at risk or their habitat.

Park Act

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

Land Act

Protects species at risk and their habitat with map reserves and land use orders or permits as part of land use planning and strategic agreements.

Federal legislation
Species at Risk Act Protects species at risk from becoming extinct or lost from the wild. It covers all wildlife species listed as being at risk nationally (and their critical habitats).
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

CITES is an international trade agreement that controls for 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.