Background of the General Status Evaluation Exercise: 2000 - Present

The Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada was signed in 1996 by most provincial, territorial, and federal government Ministers responsible for wildlife (including Alberta's).

The Accord commits signatories to preventing species in Canada from becoming extinct as a consequence of human activity. As a fundamental first step in species protection, the Accord also requires that all provincial and territorial signatories have a general status evaluation system that is similar and comparable.

Alberta Environment and Protected Areas was a lead agency in developing the procedure that has been a national standard since 2000. In 2013, the methods and terminology for national species status determination was changed, making comparisons with earlier exercises very difficult.

For this reason, Alberta continues to offer general status ranks for all vertebrate species using previous terminology and methods; the searchable database found on these web pages reflects this effort. However, Alberta also participates in the national general status exercise, helping to refine status ranks for many other species groups in addition to vertebrates. This work can be found at:

Definitions of General Status Categories for Alberta Vertebrates

The general status evaluation process that is used in Alberta provides an initial assessment of wild species as to whether they are:

  1. "At Risk" of extinction
  2. "May Be At Risk" of extinction
  3. "Sensitive" to human activities or natural events
  4. Considered "Secure"

The process also has other categories under which species can be classified, as follows:

  1. "Undetermined"
  2. "Not Assessed"
  3. "Exotic/Alien"
  4. "Extirpated/Extinct"
  5. "Accidental/Vagrant"

For more details on these wild species classification categories, see:

The Future of Wild Species Ranking in Alberta

Refining the status rankings for each species is an ongoing task for the Fish and Wildlife Division. The status document is updated every five years. As our knowledge base improves and wild species populations change, status lists will also change.

Updating and improving the general status exercise will require that existing information from both knowledgeable individuals and published sources is utilized fully each time status determinations are re-assessed.

This process will continue to highlight information needs for species whose status currently cannot be determined. Filling the data gaps will require a concerted effort by government agencies, non-governmental groups, and committed individuals.

It should be recognized that wild species populations can change relatively rapidly, particularly in areas affected by human land use. There is a continuing need to monitor these changes to ensure populations remain viable and to anticipate the effects of changing habitat conditions.