Comments sought on white-tail deer status
August 25, 2022
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on its draft status review for the Columbian white-tailed deer.
The department is recommending re-classifying Columbian white-tailed deer from endangered to threatened based on encouraging conservation gains and population growth, but continued vulnerability.
Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD) were listed under the federal Environmental Species Act in 1973, and by the state of Washington in 1980. Since 1980, the size of the lower Columbia River Columbian white-tailed deer population has fluctuated. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys estimated a low of 545 deer in 2002. The population is now substantially higher, with an estimated population of 1,296 deer in 2022.
The population of CWTD along the Columbia River has grown in the last five years. This contrasts with the preceding few years where growth was stagnant, and a longer period of decline before that. Recent increases in overall Columbia River population numbers are attributed mostly to a successful translocation to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. However, populations are still vulnerable to threats such as climate change, emerging diseases and a lack of secure and functionally connected habitat.
The draft status review for the Columbian white-tailed deer is available for review at WDFW's publications webpage, https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02329. The public can provide comments on the drafts through Nov. 21, 2022.
"We have seen some conservation gains for Columbian white-tailed deer over the last few years, particularly the population growth at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Area," said Taylor Cotten, WDFW conservation assessment manager. "A potential down-listing is encouraging, but the species remains vulnerable to long-term persistence in Washington without continued conservation actions."
The public can submit written comments on the review and recommendation via email or by mail to Taylor Cotten, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.
WDFW prepares status reports to recommend endangered, threatened, and sensitive status for species of conservation concern. If listed, WDFW prepares recovery plans to guide conservation and recovery efforts and periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state.