Monarchs are now ranked as "Endangered" under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). This decision was rendered on December 8, 2023, and announced in December 20th Canada Gazette (official Government of Canada newspaper). This decision impacts federally-governed lands. Provincial governments must decide if changes will be made to their own species at risk acts and regulations. Monarchs are currently ranked as “Endangered” in Nova Scotia. It is uncertain how monarch-related community science and research programs might be impacted.
Monarchs were first listed as endangered in Canada by the federal government advisory group Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2016. The Environment Ministry takes COSEWIC designation into consideration when determining formal designation under SARA.
COSEWIC noted that monarchs are threatened by the degradation of the overwintering habitat in Mexico, increased use of herbicides affecting milkweed, decline in nectar supplies throughout the migratory route and neonicotinoid pesticides. The species was reclassified from species of special concern to endangered because it has declined by more than 50% over 2006 and 2016, as measured at overwintering sites (California and Mexico).
This designation under SARA gives endangered or threatened species additional protection on federal lands, making it an offence to kill, harm or damage a species residence. The government is also mandated to establish recovery strategies and an action plan for these species by working with provinces, First Nations, municipalities and conservation groups.
In anticipation of this decision, Environment and Climate Change Canada held meetings over past two years to discuss challenges faced by monarchs in Canada, limiting factors, and priorities for a recovery strategy. I had the privilege of serving on the Monarch Recovery National Technical Committee.
More information with detailed documentation on this decision can be found on the Canada Gazette.