The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will host public information workshops January 22 and January 23 to discuss emergency plans to relocate up to 50 Columbian white-tailed deer from the Julia Butler Hansen (JBH) Refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near Ridgefield.
The workshops are scheduled for January 22 at the Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N. Main Avenue, Ridgefield, and January 23 at the Sauvie Island Academy, 14445 NW Charlton Road, Portland.
The information sessions at both locations will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The emergency translocation of the endangered deer is driven by the erosion and likely failure of the Steamboat Slough dike on the JBH Refuge. The dike, owned and maintained by Wahkiakum County Diking District 4, runs along the Columbia River boundary of the JBH refuge. It is eroding and engineers have said it could fail at any time.
A dike breach would inundate the refuge mainland unit and place the approximately 100 Columbian white-tailed deer on the refuge at extreme risk. Managers believe that in the event of a breach and subsequent flooding many of these deer will be displaced or die, which would set back recovery efforts significantly. The proposed emergency translocation is an attempt to minimize loss of deer and maintain efforts toward recovery under the ESA. The deer that are not moved from the refuge would likely seek higher ground on the refuge but there is not enough habitat there to support the entire population of 100.