ENDANGERED SPECIES — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of moving about 50 Columbian white-tailed deer from a refuge near Cathlamet where they could drown because an old dike is expected to fail.
If they didn’t drown the deer — the western-most subspecies of white-tailed deer — might die of hypothermia of starvation, setting back efforts to restore the animals, a state endangered species.
The Daily News reports the deer are being moved from the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge to another federal preserve near Ridgefield.
Work began in January and 11 deer had been moved as of Tuesday. Wildlife agents are taking special care while darting or netting the deer to avoid stress that could kill them.
Columbian white-tailed deer are native to parts of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.
The Columbian white-tailed deer was federally listed as endangered in 1968, at which time only a small population was known to survive on islands and a small area of mainland in Washington along the lower Columbia River. In 1978, a small population of Columbian white-tailed deer was identified in Douglas County, in Southwest Oregon, and subsequently listed as endangered. A recovery plan was published in 1983. Since then, the Douglas County population has rebounded and was delisted in July 2003.