White-tail deer on road to recovery
May 28, 2014
The last five years have seen remarkable strides toward the recovery of the Columbian white-tailed deer in our area. Evidence of this is the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent recommendation to downlist the Columbia River distinct population subspecies (DPS) of Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD) from endangered to threatened.
The deer population of the lower Columbian Floodplain is still listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Two of the distinct subpopulations, Tennasillahe Island and Puget Island meet the definition of being viable (50 individuals or more) and secure (free from human disturbance and safe from natural phenomena), but a minimum of three is required to achieve delisting.
The record shows that the last five years have seen remarkable strides toward the recovery of the Columbian white-tailed deer subpopulations in our area. The Fish and Wildlife Service has successfully utilized translocation as a management technique in concert with successes in habitat restoration and habitat enhancement to ensure continuing stability and security for Columbian white-tailed deer. Full recovery will be achieved when there are three viable and secure deer populations. Currently the deer population is viable and secure on both Puget and Tenasillahe Islands. Julia Butler Hansen Refuge’s population is secure and well on its way to being viable once again. Ridgefield NWR has a small secure deer population that is being increased with translocations.
Columbian white-tailed deer are unique to southwestern Washington and western Oregon. The successes in management as already noted have been invaluable in promoting the recovery of the deer through the stabilization of the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge and the Ridgefield NWR subpopulations.