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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Protected status upheld for four Washington species

Despite two decades of efforts to save them, spotted owls continue to disappear.
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Despite two decades of efforts to save them, spotted owls continue to disappear. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

THREATENED SPECIES -- Greater sage-grouse and western gray squirrels will remain on the state’s threatened species list and snowy plovers and northern spotted owls on the state’s endangered species list, according to a vote by the the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The commission took action on the protective status of the four species during a public meeting Friday and Saturday in Olympia, the state Fish and Wildlife Department reports. 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 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 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.

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In other business, 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. Five of the proposals are on the western half of Washington and five are on the East Side.

Kittitas County proposal:

Klickitat County

Lincoln County proposals:

Walla Walla County propoal:

The commission also received briefing 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.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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