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The channel darter - a threatened species

You might find this small fish living near you. It needs good quality water and habitat. Learn how to recognize it and help protect it.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) was created in order to prevent wildlife species in Canada from becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of species at risk and to manage species of special concern. Threatened species such as the channel darter are protected by SARA, which prohibits harming, killing or capturing them. In addition, it is forbidden to destroy any element of their critical habitat. A recovery strategy followed by one or several action plans must be developed for these species.

Quebec Distribution

Channel darters are found in the St. Lawrence River as well as in lakes and streams in southern Quebec.

Where to find them?

Channel darters live in streams and pools with clean water and unsilted beds of gravel, pebbles or sand.

A natural shoreline is key to a healthy stream or lake, because it keeps the temperature cool and oxygen levels up, and it provides food and cover. It also serves as a protective barrier to pollutants and a natural protection against shoreline erosion.


A number of human activities (farming, urban, forestry and recreational) can cause loss or degradation of the habitat of channel darters. Some of the main threats to the habitat of this species at risk are:

  • the removal or degradation of shoreline vegetation,
  • sediment input and excessive accumulation of sediment,
  • reduced water quality due to chemicals and fertilizers, and
  • the disruption of natural water flow patterns, or barriers to the free passage of fish.

Bait fishing can also harm these small fish, because they can be captured accidently.


The Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk and the Aboriginal Funds for Species at Risk help fund recovery and awareness projects. For example, shorelines have been planted with vegetation to stabilize them and to restore the aquatic habitat.

In addition, commercial bait fishing has been banned from some sectors to prevent channel darters from being captured accidentally.

You have a role to play

Waterfront residents: avoid disturbing the channel darter's habitat

  • Preserve or restore natural shorelines.
  • Avoid driving vehicles on streambeds or shorelines.
  • Avoid spreading fertilizer or pesticides.

Fishers: do not use channel darters as baitfish

  • Learn how to recognize this threatened species.
  • If you catch a channel darter by accident, observe the law: return the fish to the water immediately to give it the best possible chance of surviving.

To find out more

E. Edmonson (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

Channel darters are found in the St. Lawrence River as well as in lakes and streams in southern Quebec.

A natural shoreline
S. Garceau (Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec)

G. Coker

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