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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

ARCHIVED NEWS RELEASE
This document is provided for archival purposes only.
Archived documents do not reflect current WDFW regulations or policy and may contain factual inaccuracies.

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July 12, 2016
Contact: Hannah Anderson, (360) 902-8403

WDFW seeks comments on protective status
of 5 wildlife species

OLYMPIA – State wildlife managers are seeking public input on their recommendations to change the listing status for five protected wildlife species in Washington.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recommends removing bald eagles and peregrine falcons from Washington's endangered species list and downlisting American white pelicans to threatened status from endangered.

Wildlife managers also recommend elevating the protective status of marbled murrelets and lynx to endangered from threatened status.

WDFW periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state. The public can comment on the listing recommendations and draft reviews available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/ Information on Washington's protective listing classifications can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_definitions.html.

Written comments on the reviews and recommendations can be submitted by Oct. 10, 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.

WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to discuss the reviews and recommendations with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its November 2016 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/

The bald eagle can be found across Washington but most of the population resides west of the Cascade mountain range. The widespread use of the pesticide DDT and, to a lesser extent, habitat loss, led to the imperiled status of bald eagles, which were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1978. Measures to reduce threats to the species have allowed bald eagles to make an extraordinary recovery both nationally and within Washington, where there were 1,334 eagle nesting sites in 2015, compared to 1,000 in 2005. If the species is delisted in Washington, bald eagles would continue to be protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Act.

The peregrine falcon is distributed throughout North America, including both sides of the Cascade Mountain range in Washington. The species was listed as endangered in Washington in 1980 when only five nesting pairs were found statewide. The implementation of falcon reintroduction programs and a ban of the pesticide DDT, which had caused the decline of falcon populations nationally, have helped the species to recover. WDFW estimates there are 148 peregrine falcon nesting sites in the state in 2016, up from 70 in 2002. The peregrine falcon would continue to receive protection under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, regardless of its listing classification in Washington.

The American white pelican is a large, nesting bird that eats fish, amphibians and crayfish. The population and range of these pelicans declined in the 19th and early 20th centuries due primarily to habitat loss. The only white pelican breeding colony in Washington was established in 1994 on the Columbia River, north of Walla Walla. Although pelican numbers have increased, with more than 3,000 birds counted in 2015, the pelican population is still vulnerable. Pelicans are sensitive to disturbances by humans or predators. Other factors affecting pelican populations include the loss of breeding and foraging habitats due to severe weather and changes in water levels. Similar to the peregrine falcon, this species will continue to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, irrespective of its listing status in Washington.

The lynx is the rarest of the three native cats, including bobcats and mountain lions, in Washington. Lynx have large feet and long legs, giving them an advantage in deep snow over other carnivores that compete for habitat and prey such as snowshoe hares, which comprise 50 to 100 percent of the lynx's diet. Western Okanogan County is the only area in the state that supports a resident lynx population, estimated at 54 animals. Threats to this population include the loss and fragmentation of habitat due to wildfire, and the unpredictable effects of climate change. There's no indication that Washington's lynx population has improved since it was listed for protection.

The marbled murrelet is a small seabird that inhabits the southern Salish Sea and the outer Washington coast. The species flies considerable distances inland to establish nesting locations – an unusual behavior for seabirds. Marbled murrelets face several threats including oil spills and net fisheries in marine areas and the loss of nesting habitat inland due to logging. There has been a substantial decline in old growth forest habitat since the species was listed as threatened in Washington in 1993. Murrelet population numbers in the state dropped 44 percent from 2001 to 2015. Wildlife biologists believe the marbled murrelet could become extirpated in Washington within the next several decades if solutions aren't found to address threats to this species.

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

Corrected on July 20, 2016