WDFW seeks public comment on pygmy rabbit status review


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News release

Contact: Taylor Cotten, 360-701-8787
Media: Jennifer Becar, 564-669-0850

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on a draft Periodic Status Review for the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit that includes a recommendation to keep the species on Washington’s endangered species list. The public comment period is open until August 27.

“The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit was considered extinct in Washington by 2004 but has since been reintroduced through captive breeding and translocation programs,” said Gerald Hayes, WDFW wildlife biologist.

However, there is still more work to do to establish a stable and growing pygmy rabbit population in the state.

“Since pygmy rabbits have not reached population, distribution, or security criteria for downlisting (PDF), WDFW staff recommend the species remain state listed as endangered,” said Hayes.

The draft Periodic Status Review for Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is now available on WDFW’s website. The public can submit written comments on the document via email or by mailing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ATTN: Taylor Cotten, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504.

All members of the public are invited to share their perspectives and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, status as a veteran, or basis of disability.

“Following the public comment period, we will finalize the Periodic Status Review and brief the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on the recommendation,” said Taylor Cotten, WDFW conservation assessment section manager. The Commission is tentatively scheduled to consider this topic in the fall of 2024.

The pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) is the smallest rabbit species in North America. It relies on sagebrush for habitat and can be found in Washington’s shrubsteppe. The population of Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit in Washington is extremely small, genetically distinct, and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Despite a long history of collaborative recovery efforts in Washington, the species remains vulnerable to climate change impacts and to the threat of habitat loss and degradation.

WDFW regularly analyzes and reviews information to inform status and classification recommendations for species listed as endangered, threatened, or sensitive in Washington. More information is available on WDFW’s At-Risk Species webpage.

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, 833-885-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.