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Status reviews of Columbian White-Tailed Deer, Taylor's Checkerspots Available For Public Comment

OLYMPIA – State wildlife managers are seeking public input on their recommendations to keep Columbian white-tailed deer and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies on Washington’s endangered species list.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state. The public can comment through July 9 on the listing recommendations and recently updated status reports for Columbian white-tailed deer and Taylor’s checkerspots.

The draft review for the Columbian white-tailed deer is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01797/ The draft for the Taylor’s checkerspot can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01798/

WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to discuss the reviews and recommendations with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its August meeting. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/

Native to the Pacific Northwest, Columbian white-tailed deer can be found in two isolated populations. The larger population (roughly 6,000 deer) occurs in Douglas County, Oregon, while the second group of deer occupies the northern shores and islands of the lower Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. Both populations were listed as endangered in 1973 by the federal government, which has since removed the southern Oregon population of white-tailed deer from the list.

The Columbian white-tailed deer was listed as endangered by Washington state in 1980. The population of these deer has fluctuated from a low of 545 in 2002 to 966 in 2015, when the federal government began the process of downlisting the Columbia River’s population of Columbian white-tailed deer to threatened status. Much of the upland prairie that Columbian white-tailed deer prefer has been lost, despite activities to protect and restore habitat.

Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies were historically found in grassland habitats from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, south through western Washington’s Puget Trough, and into Oregon. These butterflies were documented in 45 Washington locations from the San Juan Islands south to the Cowlitz River in Lewis County. Today, the butterfly is restricted to 11 known populations – eight in Washington, one in British Columbia, and two in Oregon. The species was listed as endangered by the state of Washington in 2006 and has similar status with both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The population of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies has declined across its entire range. Factors affecting the species in Washington include the decline of grasslands, the invasion of non-native plant species and increased human development on the butterflies’ habitat.

Written comments on the review and recommendation can be submitted via email to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Forty-five species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection as state endangered, threatened, or sensitive species.


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