In Alberta, the Wildlife Act defines an endangered species in Section 1(i) of the Act, as, “a kind of endangered animal, a kind of invertebrate prescribed as an endangered invertebrate, a kind of plant, alga or fungus prescribed as an endangered plant, alga or fungus, a kind of fish prescribed as an endangered fish, or any combination of any of those kinds of organisms.”
Once something is determined to be a species, it can be defined as either at risk, secure, or undetermined. If a species is secure, it does not require management to prevent it from becoming extinct – its population is stable and/or growing. If a species is undetermined, it may be because there is not sufficient data to properly classify the species as either secure or at risk. If a species is considered to be at risk, then that particular species will be further studied to classify it in one of the following sub-categories:
1. Extinct: A species that no longer exists anywhere in the world.
2. Extirpated: A species that no longer exists in the wild in a specific geographical region but continues to exist elsewhere in the wild.
3. Endangered: A species that is at immediate risk of extirpation or extinction.
4. Threatened: A species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
5. Species of Special Concern: A species that is particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.
6. Data Deficient: A species for which there is insufficient information to support status designation.
This initial classification step is crucial because, under the current legislative process, a species’ classification will significantly affect both how it is treated and how well it is protected. In a later section on this page, we will explain how the Alberta government has left this classification process up to government policy rather than including classification in the legislation. As you may already know, government policy, unlike legislation, is unenforceable and potential enforcement depends entirely on the government’s discretion.
 Wildlife Act, RSA 2000, c W-10 s 1(i).
 David Biello, “3 Billion to Zero: What Happened to the Passenger Pigeon?” Scientific American (27 June 2014), online: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/3-billion-to-zero-what-happened-to-the-passenger-pigeon/.
 Species at Risk Public Registry, “Response Statement – Grey Whale, Atlantic Population” Government of Canada (2 December 2010), online: https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=129.
 Species at Risk Public Registry, “Species Profile: Atlantic Bluefin Tuna” (15 November 2017), online: https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=114.
 Species at Risk Public Registry, “Species Profile: Barn Swallow” (15 November 2017), online: https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=1147.
 Species at Risk Public Registry, “Species Profile: Beluga Whale Eastern High Arctic – Baffin Bay Population” (15 November 2017) online: https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=150.
 Species at Risk Alberta, “A Guide to Endangered and Threatened Species and Species of Special Concern in Alberta”, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development 2 (2016) at 1.
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