Hannah Anderson (360) 902-8403; Jason Wettstein (360) 902-2254
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is taking public input on its draft recovery plan and its recommendation to keep the Mazama Pocket Gopher on the state’s threatened species list.
The Mazama Pocket Gopher, a small burrowing animal, inhabits prairie habitats of Thurston, Pierce and Mason counties and sub-alpine areas of Olympic National Park.
WDFW prepares recovery plans to guide conservation and recovery efforts and periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state.
Pocket gophers play an important role in ecological communities, providing benefits for soil structure and soil chemistry, serving as prey for many predators, and providing burrows that are used by a wide variety of other species.
Mazama Pocket Gophers (Thomomys mazama) were formerly more widespread on south Puget Sound prairies, but their distribution has diminished due to habitat loss and degradation.
The species was listed as threatened in Washington State by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2006. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed four subspecies of Mazama Pocket Gopher as threatened and designated critical habitat.
The draft state recovery plan and first periodic status review for the Mazama Pocket Gopher identifies recovery goals, specifies population targets, and outlines recovery strategies and tasks. The document also provides an update on the species’ status based on recent research and monitoring.
The draft recovery plan and periodic status review on the Mazama Pocket Gopher is available online. The public can provide comments on the draft through March 15, 2020.
WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to discuss the periodic status review with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its April 2020 meeting. Meeting dates and times are listed on the commission webpage.
Written comments on the review and recommendation can be submitted via email to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The agency works to keep common species common and restore species of greatest conservation need.