The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to keep greater sage-grouse and western gray squirrels on the state’s threatened species list and snowy plovers and northern spotted owls on the state’s endangered species list.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), took action on the protective status of the four species during a public meeting Feb. 26-27 in Olympia. The department recommended keeping the four species at their current protective status.
Both greater sage-grouse and western gray squirrels have seen their ranges shrink over time and continue to face several threats including the loss of habitat. The current populations of sage-grouse and squirrels are not at levels that would allow the department to reclassify either species.
The updated status review for greater sage-grouse can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01757/, while the review for the western gray squirrel is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01758/
The snowy plover is a small bird that lives mostly in coastal areas of Washington. Although the snowy plover population appears to be increasing on the west coast, the population in Washington is still small. The status review for the snowy plover can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01751/
The northern spotted owl lives in mature and old coniferous forests in Washington and was listed as an endangered species in 1988. Habitat loss and competition with the closely related barred owl is contributing to the continued population decline of spotted owls in Washington. The updated status review for northern spotted owls is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01752/
In other business, the commission received briefings and took public comments on salmon management actions over the past year in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay as well as in-season management of Hood Canal chum salmon.
Additionally, the commission received a briefing on 10 proposals to acquire land for fish and wildlife habitat and public recreation. WDFW will seek potential funding from state and federal grants for approved projects later this year. Information about each of the proposals can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/acquisitions/