State wildlife managers are seeking public comment on draft status reviews that recommend keeping greater sage-grouse and western gray squirrels on the state’s threatened species list.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state. The public can comment through Dec. 29 on the listing recommendations and recently updated status reports for greater sage-grouse and western gray squirrels.
The draft review for the greater sage-grouse is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01757/ while the draft review for the western gray squirrel can be found online athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01758/.
Written comments on the reviews and recommendations can be submitted via email to[email protected] or by mail to Gerald Hayes, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
WDFW staff members plan to discuss the reviews and recommendations with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January 2016 meeting, when a public hearing is also tentatively scheduled. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.
The greater sage-grouse historically was found throughout the sagebrush-steppe areas of eastern Washington. The species is now mostly restricted to Douglas County, the Yakima Training Center, and two other areas – in Lincoln County and on the Yakama Indian Reservation – where efforts have been made to reintroduce greater sage-grouse. The sage-grouse was listed as state-threatened in 1998. The federal government recently declined to list the species.
About 1,000 birds are estimated to live in Washington. Factors affecting greater sage-grouse in Washington include habitat loss and fragmentation, wildfires, high predator populations and collisions with fences, powerlines, and vehicles.
The western gray squirrel was listed as threatened in Washington in 1993. The species is now largely limited to three areas, including Klickitat and southern Yakima counties, the North Cascades of Okanogan and Chelan counties, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in south Puget Sound.
The last statewide population estimate was placed at fewer than 1,500 squirrels. Threats to western gray squirrels in Washington include habitat loss and degradation, disease and vehicle collisions.
Forty-six species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection as state endangered, threatened or sensitive species.