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Recovery Strategy for the Western Silvery Minnow (Hypognathus argyritis) in Canada [Proposed]

Recovery Strategy for the Western Silvery Minnow (Hypognathus argyritis) in Canada


July 2007

Western Silvery Mennow

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 (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/the_act/) 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 (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/) and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat    (http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/recovery/).

Recommended citation:

Milk River Fish Species at Risk Recovery Team.  2007.  Recovery strategy for the western silvery minnow (Hybognathus argyritis) in Canada [Proposed].  Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. viii + 43 p.

Additional copies:

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARAPublic Registry (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/)

Cover illustration:  Drawing of the western silvery minnow by J.R. Tomelleri ©, reproduced with permission.

Également disponible en français sous le titre « Programme de rétablissement du méné d’argent de l’Ouest (Hybognathus argyritis) au Canada (Projet)»

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2007. All rights reserved.

ISBN    To come
Cat. no.   To come

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


This proposed recovery strategy for the western silvery minnow has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions described in the Preface. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its recovery strategy for the western silvery minnow as required by the Species at Risk Act (SARA). This recovery strategy also constitutes advice to other jurisdictions and organizations on the recovery goals, approaches and objectives that are recommended to protect and recover the species.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans invites all Canadians to join Fisheries and Oceans Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the western silvery minnow and Canadian society as a whole. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will support implementation of this strategy to the extent possible, given available resources and its overall responsibility for species at risk conservation. Implementation of the strategy by other participating jurisdictions and organizations is subject to their respective policies, appropriations, priorities and budgetary constraints.

The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on best existing knowledge and are subject to modifications resulting from new findings and revised objectives.  The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will report on progress within five years.

This strategy will be complemented by one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species. The Minister will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians interested in or affected by these measures will be consulted.

Responsible Jurisdictions

Under the Species at Risk Act, the responsible jurisdiction for the western silvery minnow is Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Government of Alberta (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Environment) cooperated in the production of this recovery strategy.


The Western Silvery Minnow Recovery Strategy was developed by the Milk River Fish Species at Risk Recovery Team, comprised of the following individuals:

Species at Risk Recovery Team
Roy AudetMilk River Ranchers’ Association
Michael BryskiAquatic Biologist, Water Management Operations, Alberta Environment
Terry Clayton (Co-chair)Fish Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development
Lori GoaterSouthern Alberta Environmental Group
Fred Hnytka (Co-chair)Fish Species at Risk Biologist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Central and Arctic Region
Emma HulittRepresentative for the Counties of Cardston, Forty Mile and Warner, the Villages of Coutts and Warner, and the Town of Milk River
Ken Miller Milk River Watershed Council of Canada
Shane PetryImpact Assessment Biologist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Central and Arctic Region
Richard Quinlan  Species at Risk Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development



The Milk River Fish Species at Risk Recovery Team extends its sincere appreciation to the many organizations that supported the development of this recovery strategy with financial and/or in-kind contributions, and to the people who contributed their knowledge and hard work. This report was written by S. Pollard who was secretariat to the Recovery Team, and by D.B. Stewart of Arctic Biological Consultants, Winnipeg, MB. Funding to support Recovery Team meetings was provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD).  Shane Petry of DFO and Terry Clayton (ASRD) provided facilities for Recovery Team meetings in Lethbridge. J.R. Tomelleri drew the illustration of the western silvery minnow, and kindly permitted its use on the report cover. Blair Watke of ASRD prepared the fine drainage basin maps. The Recovery Team would especially like to thank the Town of Milk River for providing facilities for one of its meetings and a workshop in their community; Doug Watkinson of Fisheries and Oceans Canada who travelled from Winnipeg to participate in Recovery Team meetings and share his knowledge on the western silvery minnow; and Karen Scott for providing the photo composite of the western silvery minnow. Lastly, the team is indebted to Sue Cotterill, Becky Cudmore, Bruce McColloch, Richard Orr, Sam Stephenson, and Doug Watkinson who provided constructive reviews of the manuscript. 

Strategic Environmental Assessment Statement

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, the purpose of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (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 the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats.

This recovery strategy describes a number of research, monitoring, management, regulatory and public education approaches required for the conservation and recovery of the western silvery minnow.  Aside from the acquisition of further knowledge, the recovery strategy focuses on eliminating or mitigating threats to the species including species introductions, habitat loss or degradation, and pollution. In addition to generally improving environmental conditions, the reduction or elimination of these threats may benefit other co-occurring species (see Section 5.6). The recovery strategy also recommends rationalizing existing or proposed stocking programs in the Milk River with potential impacts of any changes considered within that process.  The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not have significant adverse effects.


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 S2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on theSARA public registry: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/plans/residence_e.cfm


  • The responsible jurisdiction for the western silvery minnow under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) is Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Section 37 of SARA requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered and threatened species. The western silvery minnow was listed as threatened under SARA in June 2003.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Central and Arctic Region co-led the development of this recovery strategy. The proposed strategy meetsSARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41). It was developed in cooperation or consultation with:
  • The Province of Alberta – Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) and Alberta Environment (AENV).
  • Milk River Rancher’s Association;
  • Milk River Watershed Council of Canada;
  • Southern Alberta Environmental Group;
  • The Counties of Warner, Cardston, and Forty Mile; and
  • The Villages of Coutts and Warner, and the Town of Milk River.

Also refer to Appendix B for a full record of public consultations.

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