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Recovery Strategy for the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) (Great Lakes Population) in Canada (Proposed)

Photo by Dr. James P. Bogart of a male Tiger Salamander from Kelleys Island, Erie County, Ohio, U.S.A, located in the western basin of Lake Erie, collected by Leslie A. Lowcock on March 25, 1985 (catalogue number JPB10674).

Tiger Salamander (Great Lakes population)

January 2009

Recovery of this species is considered not technically or biologically feasible at this time.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Statement

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is"to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity."

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species' persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA outline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What's next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat (http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/recovery/).

Recommended citation:

Andre Ngo, Vicki L. McKay, and Robert W. Murphy. 2009. Recovery Strategy for Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) (Great Lakes Population) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Parks Canada Agency. Ottawa. v + 28 pp. + 1 Appendix.

Additional copies:

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry.

Cover illustration: Photo by Dr. James P. Bogart of a male Tiger Salamander from Kelleys Island, Erie County, Ohio, U.S.A, located in the western basin of Lake Erie, collected by Leslie A. Lowcock on March 25, 1985 (catalogue number JPB10674).

Également disponible en français sous le titre :

« Programme de rétablissement de la salamandre tigrée (Ambystoma tigrinum) (population des Grands Lacs) au Canada (Proposition) »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2009. All rights reserved.

ISBN To come

Catalogue no. To come

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk(1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada. The Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA) requires that federal competent ministers prepare recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species.

The Minister of the Environment presents this document as the recovery strategy for the Tiger Salamander (Great Lakes population), as required under SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions responsible for the species, as described in the Preface.

The recovery of the Tiger Salamander (Great Lakes population) in Canada is considered neither appropriate, nor technically, nor biologically feasible at this time. The existence of such a population in Canada, even historically, is questionable and remains unconfirmed. If a population did exist at one time, it has since been extirpated. There are neither clear candidates for translocation, nor appropriate habitat available, nor are effective mitigation or recovery techniques currently known.

This feasibility determination will be re-evaluated, as warranted, in response to changing conditions and/or knowledge.


This document was prepared by Andre Ngo (Ph. D., Royal Ontario Museum [ROM]/University of Toronto), Vicki McKay (Species at Risk Biologist, Point Pelee National Park of Canada [PPNP], Parks Canada Agency [PCA]), and Robert W. Murphy (Senior Curator, ROM/Professor, University of Toronto), and has benefited from peer and jurisdictional reviews.


Special thanks go to Jim Bogart (University of Guelph), Craig A. Campbell (Private Consultant), Francis R. Cook (Canadian Museum of Nature [CMN]), Jon (Sandy) Dobbyn (Ontario Parks [OP]), Deb Jacobs (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources [OMNR]), Leslie A. Lowcock (Cascade Environmental Research Group), Ross MacCulloch (ROM), Michael J. Oldham (Natural Heritage Information Centre [NHIC], OMNR), Emily Slavik (OP), and Michèle Steigerwald (CMN), for their assistance in detailing and understanding the Ontario and Manitoba Tiger Salamander records. Brett Groves' (Essex County Stewardship Network) assistance is appreciated for his P. A. Taverner research. Valuable reviews were provided by Madeline Austen (Canadian Wildlife Service [CWS]), James P. Bogart, Francis R. Cook, Leslie A. Lowcock, Michael J. Oldham, Dan Reive (PPNP, PCA), Lindsay Rodger (PCA), Barbara Slezak (CWS), D. A. Sutherland (NHIC, OMNR), Kara Vlasman (PCA), and Allen Woodliffe (OMNR). Mapping was completed by Justin Quirouette (PCA). Funding was provided by the PCA Species at Risk Program, supported by the National Strategy for the Protection of Species at Risk.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Statement

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all Species at Risk Act recovery strategies, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2004). The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk, and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond their intended benefits. Environmental effects, including impacts to non-target species, and the environment, were considered during recovery planning. The SEA is incorporated directly into the strategy, and is also summarized below.

Due to the lack of evidence to confirm the presence, past or present, of a Great Lakes population of the Tiger Salamander in Canada, and because recovery is regarded as neither appropriate nor feasible, no further recovery action is contemplated at this time. Accordingly, this recovery strategy will have no effect on the environment.


SARA defines residence as:

"a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating" [SARA Subsection 2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry.

In the case of an extirpated species for which the recovery strategy does not recommend its repatriation into the wild in Canada, the prohibition pertaining to the damage or destruction of residence does not apply [SARA S33].


This recovery strategy deals with the recovery of the Great Lakes population of the Tiger Salamander. In Canada, the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) currently ranges from British Columbia, across Alberta and Saskatchewan, to Manitoba. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC in press) treats the Tiger Salamander as three separate populations, or designatable units, based on geographic distribution: 1) the Great Lakes population (Extirpated - Ontario), 2) the Southern Mountain population (Endangered – British Columbia), and 3) the Prairie/Boreal population (Not at Risk – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). Both the Great Lakes and Southern Mountain populations are listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.

Under the Species at Risk Act, Parks Canada Agency is the responsible jurisdiction for the Great Lakes population of the Tiger Salamander, and has led recovery strategy development. The document has benefitted from the valuable input of Environment Canada, the Province of Ontario and peer reviewers.

The determination that recovery is not feasible, including the justification, was examined as part of the review process for the recovery strategy. The final decision and wording of the determination were the responsibility of Parks Canada Agency, and took account of the comments received.

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