OLYMPIA -- The status of 13 wildlife species will be reviewed in coming months
to determine if special protections are needed to ensure their survival in the state, the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The studies will take place under an agency program aimed at identifying
troubled, or potentially troubled, native wildlife species and mapping out strategies to
restore them to health.
Under the program, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will ultimately
decide which species should be put on the state's endangered, threatened or sensitive
species list. Presently, 33 species are on the list.
"We'll be evaluating six species to determine if they should be downlisted or
delisted, and seven others to see if they should be put on the list as endangered,
threatened or sensitive," said Harriet Allen, who oversees the department's threatened
and endangered species program.
The species that will be evaluated for possible downlisting or delisting, because
of recovery successes, include the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Columbian white-tailed
deer, gray whale, Aleutian Canada goose and brown pelican.
The species being considered for listing include the sage grouse, sharp-tailed
grouse, common loon, fisher, Oregon spotted frog, common murre and Olive Ridley sea
The Department of Fish and Wildlife defines an endangered species as one that
is seriously threatened with extinction throughout all or a portion of its range. A
threatened species is defined as one likely to become endangered unless steps are
taken to reverse its decline.
A sensitive species is defined as one that is especially vulnerable or is declining,
and is in need of special management consideration.
WDFW's listing procedures were adopted in 1990 by the state Fish and Wildlife
Commission, the nine-member citizen's panel that establishes agency policy. The
procedures were developed by citizens, constituent groups and state and federal
natural resource agency officials.
Once listed as endangered or threatened, a recovery plan is written for the
species. The plan outlines the steps needed to restore the species to healthy levels and
prioritizes department activities.
For example, WDFW habitat acquisition funds are frequently allocated based on
listed species. Agency personnel also provide landowners, city and county officials and
others with in-depth information on listed species, where they are located and what
steps are needed to protect and enhance their populations.
Allen said WDFW's efforts should not be confused with the federal government's
program to list species as endangered or threatened based on the species' status
throughout its entire range in the United States. The state's list serves as a wildlife
management tool which identifies species in need of immediate attention within the
Species placed on the federal government's list receive protection under the
federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). A species listed by the state does not receive
protection under the ESA unless it also is on the federal government's list.
Allen said the department is seeking biological information on the status of the
species to assist in the reviews. Biologists' draft status reviews and recommendations
on at least eight of the species are expected to be available for public review by next
spring. The department will then hold public meetings to discuss and explain the
recommendations, and listen to citizen comments and suggestions.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission could render decisions on some species by
August 1997. The commission is expected to decide the status of all 13 species by