OLYMPIA--Final public comments are being collected through Nov. 30 on proposed state protection listings for three species the northern leopard frog, a butterfly known as the mardon skipper and the Olympic mudminnow.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is recommending that the leopard frog and the mardon skipper be designated state endangered species and that the Olympic mudminnow be added to the state list of sensitive species.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to decide at its regular meeting Dec. 10 and 11 whether to add the animals to state protection lists.
Copies of final reports on status of the three species will be available after Nov. 1 at public libraries, WDFW headquarters and regional offices in Mill Creek, Montesano, Vancouver, Ephrata, Yakima and Spokane. Copies are currently available in electronic format on the WDFW Website. Written comments on the status reports should be mailed by Nov. 30 to Harriet Allen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
The northern leopard frog, once one of North America's most common amphibians, has disappeared from nearly 90 percent of the state areas where it was found 30 years ago. Recent field surveys have found the frog only in two locations in Grant County. Reasons for the decline are unknown, but possible causes include agricultural chemicals, predation by non-native bullfrogs and fish, and changes in wetland habitat.
The mardon skipper, which depends on plants found in the native grasslands of south Puget Sound and the southern Cascades, has declined due to loss of habitat to human development, grazing, farming, herbicide use and invasion of non-native plants. Only a few hundred of the butterflies are believed to remain in the state.
The Olympic mudminnow, found in the southern and western lowlands of the Olympic Peninsula, the Chehalis and lower Deschutes river drainages and southern Puget Sound west of the Nisqually River, is being recommended for listing because of its restricted range and its complete dependence on wetland habitat, up to half of which has vanished since the state was settled.
The state already lists 24 species as endangered (likely to become extinct); 11 as threatened (likely to become endangered), and four as sensitive (in decline and likely to become threatened or endangered). Another 100 species are considered candidates for eventual listing.
Although WDFW advises landowners and local governments on habitat protection, state listings do not carry the regulatory authority of federal protection listings.