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

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July 16, 1998
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

Meetings to review species protection changes

OLYMPIA -- Meetings will be held later this month to gather public comment on a draft Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife proposal to declare the fisher a state endangered species and to add the margined sculpin and the pygmy whitefish to the state list of sensitive species.

Meetings on the recommended protection listings will be held in the following locations:

Location Date Time Address
Olympia

July 27 7-9 p.m. Olympia Community Center, Room 101, 222 North Columbia
Dayton

July 28 7-9 p.m. Columbia County Fairgrounds, Youth Building
Spokane

July 29 7-9 p.m. Spokane County Regional Health District Auditorium, 1101 W. College St.

After public comments are taken state biologists will prepare final status reports and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) documents which will be available Sept. 1 for public review. Final recommendations will be presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Oct. 2 and 3 meeting.

An endangered-species designation is recommended for the fisher, a forest- dwelling member of the weasel family, because it has almost vanished in the state due to past over-trapping and more recent habitat loss to development and logging.

The sensitive species listing recommendation for the margined sculpin and the pygmy whitefish means that the species are vulnerable to decline. The sculpin, a small fish found only in the Tucannon and Walla Walla drainages of the Blue Mountains, is affected by water disturbances from development, logging, agriculture, grazing and channelization. The pygmy whitefish has disappeared from six state lakes because of declining water quality and past fish management practices including the introduction of exotic species.

Although WDFW maintains a list of state sensitive, threatened and endangered species and can work with landowners to encourage habitat protection, the department does not have regulatory authority to control land use to protect species' habitat, with the exception of bald eagle habitat.