State wildlife managers are seeking public comment on draft status reviews that recommend keeping snowy plovers and northern spotted owls on the state endangered 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. 8 on the listing recommendations and recently updated status reports for the snowy plover and spotted owl.
The draft review on the snowy plover is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01751/, while the draft review for the northern spotted owl can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01752/.
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 also is tentatively scheduled. The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will make the final determination sometime next year. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.
The snowy plover is a small bird with gray wings and a white breast that lives mostly in coastal areas of Washington. In 1993, the state listed snowy plovers as endangered and the federal government listed the species as threatened. Although the snowy plover population appears to be increasing on the west coast, the population in Washington is still small.
Factors affecting snowy plovers in Washington include habitat decline, human disturbance during nesting season, and low productivity due to predation on eggs and chicks. Efforts are ongoing to improve snowy plover habitat and reduce disruptions during nesting season.
The northern spotted owl was listed as an endangered species in Washington state in 1988. This species is found in mature and old coniferous forest from coastal areas to the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range.
At the time of listing, the most important factor influencing the spotted owl was loss of habitat, primarily due to timber harvest. In recent years, the closely related barred owl, which out-competes the spotted owl for resources, has expanded its range and is contributing to the continued population decline of spotted owls in Washington.
A variety of management actions are underway to protect spotted owls in Washington and elsewhere within their range, including an attempt to remove barred owls from spotted owl territories at four study areas across the Pacific Northwest.
Forty-six species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection as state endangered, threatened or sensitive species.