The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it has completed the final Environmental Assessment for an emergency translocation of endangered Columbian white-tailed deer and is making the document, together with an accompanying Finding of No Significance (FONSI), available on the refuge website at http://www.fws.gov/jbh/.
Beginning this week, up to 50 deer will be translocated from the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer near Cathlamet to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near Ridgefield. The deer are being moved to save them from potential loss resulting from the possible failure of a dike between the JBH refuge and the Columbia River. If the dike fails, much of the refuge will be flooded, placing the deer at risk.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbian white-tailed deer are unique to southwest Washington and western Oregon and are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Ridgefield NWR is within their historical range and contains suitable habitat. The USFWS will capture and move the deer in partnership with the Cowlitz Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fifteen deer will also be moved from Puget Island to Cottonwood Island to improve genetic diversity in an existing population.
As part of the emergency effort, the service developed a Draft Environmental Assessment and solicited public comment. The final environmental assessment released Monday addresses those comments. The agency also held informational workshops in Ridgefield and on Sauvie Island in Oregon.