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Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada

Definition of "species at risk"

A wolf trots along an old roadbed.
Wolves are extirpated from Nova Scotia, meaning they lived here once but don't anymore.
© La Mauricie National Park / J. Pleau

Species at risk are in danger of becoming extinct (gone from the world) like the dinosaurs or extirpated (gone from a certain part of the world) like the wolf in Nova Scotia. Species at risk are usually at risk because of environmental or human-induced changes to them or their habitat on a local, regional or global scale.

Rare species occur in low numbers or inhabit extremely restricted areas. Not all rare species are at risk.


A very young lynx kitten clambers over an embankment.
The lynx is not at risk across Canada, but is at risk within Nova Scotia.
© Ivvavik National Park / T. W. Hall
Who decides what species are at risk?

Species can be at risk locally, in a particular country or even in the whole world. They can also be at different levels of risk for extinction. Species are listed by different agencies for different parts of the world.