Consultations on listing under the Species at Risk Act

Image of a hand holding three Lilliput mussels

lillput-toxolasme-questionnaire.pdf (729 kb, Get Adobe Reader)

One of the purposes of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), proclaimed by the Government of Canada in 2003, is to provide for the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of biological diversity.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has the mandate to conduct assessments on the status of wildlife species and categorize them according to their level of risk for extinction (extinct, extirpated, endangered, threatened, or special concern).

The Government of Canada considers scientific evidence, comments received from Canadians during consultations, and potential socio-economic impacts before making a decision whether or not to include the species on the List of Wildlife Species at Risk under SARA.

Recovery planning is undertaken for all listed species, and prohibitions are put in place protecting species assessed as extirpated, endangered or threatened.

As part of the consultation process, the Government of Canada would like to hear your opinions on listing the Lilliput as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act, and any comments on the potential positive and negative impacts this listing would have on you, your industry, your community and/or the ecosystem.

The Lilliput has recently been assessed as “Endangered” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Before deciding whether this species will be protected under the Species at Risk Act, Fisheries and Oceans Canada would like your opinion, comments and suggestions regarding the possible ecological, cultural and economic impacts of listing or not listing it.

Please provide your input by September 15, 2014 using the survey or go to the Species at Risk Public Registry Website.


The Lilliput is one of Canada’s 54 freshwater mussel species and the only mussel of the genus Toxolasma found in Canada. It is a rare and small mussel, typically less than 4 centimeters and occasionally reaching 5.5 centimeters in length. The Lilliput has a thick shell that is elliptical to oval in shape, with a dull, smooth and cloth-like outer shell. Its shell colour is a brown to brownish-black colour and may have green rays on the dorsal slope. A complete species profile on the Lilliput can be found on the on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

No longer found in over 40 per cent of its historical range in Canada, Lilliput is now restricted to the Sydenham River, lower Thames River (Baptiste Creek), Ruscom River, Belle River, Grand River, Welland River, Jordan Harbour and Hamilton Harbour (Sunfish Pond, Cootes Paradise and Grindstone Creek).

Distribution map of the Lilliput in Canada

distribution map

Proposed listing under SARA: Endangered

In 2013, Lilliput was assessed as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). If listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act, a recovery strategy and action plan will be developed.

Provincially, Lilliput is also under consideration as Threatened under the Ontario Endangered Species Act.


Serious threats facing remaining Lilliput include habitat loss and the increasing pollution of the waters where they live and feed. Municipal, agricultural and industrial activities can result in higher levels of sediment, nutrients and contaminants that clog mussel gills, disrupt breathing, movement and reproduction, and degrade habitat quality. Other possible threats include habitat destruction, and even mussel removal, by riverbed dredging as well as continued residential and commercial development and dam construction along Lilliput habitat. Invasive Zebra and Quagga mussels can colonize on the Lilliput in large numbers, restricting their feeding, breathing, moving and reproduction. The invasive Round Goby may also out-compete the Lilliput for prey, as well as competing with its host fishes.

Special significance of the species

Freshwater mussels are molluscs, soft-bodied animals without a skeleton (invertebrates) that live on the bottom of streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. They use a muscular foot to burrow and crawl and have a pair of hinged shells.  Mussels are filter feeders -- nature’s water purifiers -- and are food for other wildlife like fishes, otters, mink, muskrats and some birds.  They are also among the most endangered creatures in the world. 

Possible management measures

If the Lilliput is listed under SARA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will, in collaboration and consultation with stakeholders and partners, use the best available information to develop a recovery strategy and action plan for the species.

Protection and recovery of species under SARA

If the Lilliput is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk as Endangered, it will be legally protected under SARA and subject to prohibitions. It will be illegal to kill, harm, harass, capture or take a Lilliput, or possess, buy, sell or trade any part of one unless authorized by a permit issued under SARA. It will also be illegal to destroy the critical habitat of the Lilliput – the habitat necessary for its survival and recovery – once it is identified in the recovery strategy or action plan.


  1. Which stakeholder group best represents you or your organization?
    1. Aboriginal
    2. Academic
    3. General public
    4. Government
    5. Industry
    6. Non-profit organization
    7. Small business
    8. Wildlife Management Board
    9. Other? ________________________
  2. Do you think protecting the Lilliput under the Species at Risk Act would have economic, environmental, cultural and/or social BENEFITS for your organization?

  3. Do you think protecting the Lilliput under the Species at Risk Act would have economic, environmental, cultural and/or social COSTS for your organization?

  4. Should the Government of Canada add the Lilliput as Endangered to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk for protection under the Species at Risk Act?

  5. Do you have any other comments about this listing consultation that you would like us to consider?