WDFW seeks comment on rule making for Columbian white-tailed deer and Cascade red fox


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News release

Taylor Cotten, (360) 902-2505
Media: Sam Montgomery, 360-688-0721

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on rule making for Columbian white-tailed deer and Cascade red fox until Jan. 24, 2023.

The Department is recommending re-classifying the Columbian white-tailed deer from endangered to threatened based on encouraging conservation gains and population growth, but continued vulnerability. This is a Fish and Wildlife Commission decision that was rescheduled to January from the December meeting.

Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD) were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973, and as endangered by Washington state in 1980. Since 1980, the size of the lower Columbia River Columbian white-tailed deer population has fluctuated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted surveys that estimated a low of only 545 deer in 2002. The population is now substantially higher, with an estimated population of 1,296 deer in 2022.

The Department is also asking the Commission to reaffirm classifying Cascade red fox as endangered. The Commission voted to make the Cascade red fox a state endangered species in October due to its vulnerability to existing and potential threats such as climate change, small population size, and competition with other carnivores.

“We previously conducted rule making on Cascade red fox in 2022,” said Taylor Cotten, WDFW Conservation Assessment Section Manager. “The Commission voted to classify Cascade red fox as endangered over the initial recommendation to classify as a threatened species.”

This higher level of protection requires changing a different rule, and the Department is therefore conducting additional rule making to gather any new public comment and will ask the Commission to reaffirm their previous decision to classify the species as endangered after considering that input. There is no need to resubmit any previously provided comments on the classification.

The public can submit written comments on this rule making webpage.

The Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing and make a decision at its Jan. 27-28 virtual meeting.

WDFW prepares status reports and status reviews to recommend endangered, threatened, and sensitive status for species of conservation concern. If listed, WDFW prepares recovery plans to guide conservation and recovery efforts and periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state. More information is available at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk.

WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. 

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-855-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.