Oregon Working to Help Columbian White-Tailed Deer

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In an effort to bolster the endangered Columbia River population of white-tailed deer, agency biologists relocated eight deer from Douglas County, Oregon to the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge in Cathlamet, Washington. The deer were captured, disease tested, transported, collared and released in March 2010.

After three months, six of the eight deer are accounted for and Paul Meyers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist for the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge, is pleased with the result.

"We know now that we can make this work," Meyers said. "This was our first project and we hope to move more deer next year. It’s important to keep the refuge population from becoming isolated, and there is enough genetic variability between the groups to help."

In the early 1900s, biologists believed Columbian white-tailed deer had disappeared from the western valleys of Oregon, due to agricultural and residential development. But enough survived that, today, there are two self-sustaining populations—one in southwest Oregon near Roseburg, the other along the Columbia River in the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer. The Columbia River population is federally listed as endangered. The Douglas County population was delisted in 2003.

"The good news is that we have two populations," said Tod Lum, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife southwest region wildlife biologist who managed the deer capture. "The bad news is that they are concentrated in only two locations, potentially risking the entire species to disease or a catastrophic event."

The Oregon Conservation Strategy identifies species needs, scientific data gaps and conservation actions for Columbian white-tailed deer. See the Conservation Summaries for Strategy Species http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/document_pdf/b-species_2.pdf (pdf) to learn more.

A fact sheet on the Columbian white-tailed deer can be found on the USFWS websitehttp://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/Species/Data/ColumbianWhiteTailedDeer/. For more information on the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge visit the USFWS website, http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=13554.