The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public input on its draft status review for the Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD).
The department will recommend re-classifying the species from endangered to threatened based on conservation gains and population growth, although Columbian white-tailed deer are under continued vulnerability, stated a news release.
The deer were listed under the federal Environmental Species Act in 1973 and by the state of Washington in 1980.
Since 1980, the lower Columbia River Columbian white-tailed deer population has fluctuated. Surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were only 545 deer in 2002, but the population grew to an estimated 1,296 deer in 2022, stated the release.
"We have seen some conservation gains for Columbian white-tailed deer over the last few years, particularly the population growth at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Area," said Taylor Cotten, WDFW conservation assessment manager. "A potential down-listing is encouraging, but the species remains vulnerable to long-term persistence in Washington without continued conservation actions."
The release states the population is still vulnerable to threats like climate change, emerging diseases and a lack of secure and functionally connected habitat.
The public can submit written comments on the review and recommendation by email or by mail to Taylor Cotten, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.
People can provide comments on the draft status review through Nov. 21. The review can be found online at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/status-review.
WDFW prepares status reports to recommend endangered, threatened, and sensitive status for species of conservation concern, stated the release. If listed, WDFW prepares recovery plans to guide conservation and recovery efforts, and periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state.
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