OLYMPIA – State wildlife managers are seeking public comments on a draft recovery plan for Washington’s native population of Oregon spotted frogs, and a separate plan to conserve the 15 species of bats in the state.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept written comments on the draft recovery plan for the Oregon spotted frog through Aug. 9, and on the conservation plan for bats through June 10.
Both plans are posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/species/. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov, or by mail to Endangered Species Section, WDFW, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
“We welcome public input on these plans, which will guide future efforts to conserve these species,” said Eric Gardner, manager of WDFW Wildlife Diversity Division. “The department will take into account all comments received by the established deadlines before finalizing the plans.”
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, listed the state population of Oregon spotted frogs as an endangered species in 1997. The medium-size aquatic frog is also a candidate for federal protection.
Oregon spotted frogs were once common from northern California to southwest British Columbia, but their range has been shrinking. In Washington, the species is known to persist in only six river drainages – half the number documented in historical records.
Remaining sites identified in the draft recovery plan are in Whatcom, Skagit, Thurston, Skamania and Klickitat counties. Primary threats to these populations cited in the draft plan include loss of wetlands, alteration of wetlands and river channels, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals.
Stating that the Oregon spotted frog is not expected to recover without intervention, the draft plan outlines a variety of measures to address the species’ decline. Key recommendations include working with landowners to protect wetland habitat, maintaining short vegetation in seasonal wetlands, finding or establishing new spotted frog populations, and coordinating efforts to address threats posed by bullfrogs and other invasive species.
Unlike spotted frogs, none of the 15 species of bats in Washington are listed as threatened or endangered, although two – the Keen’s myotis and Townsend’s big-eared bat – are under consideration for additional state protection.
The draft conservation plan developed by WDFW is designed to guide future studies of population trends, habitat requirements, potential risks and other considerations for all species of bats in Washington, Gardner said.
“This is the first conservation plan written for bats in Washington,” he said. “Among other things, bats play a major role in controlling agricultural damage by pests in our state, and we want to make sure their future is secure. It’s always easier to protect wildlife species while they’re still viable than to bring them back when they’re already in trouble.”