Julia Butler Hansen Refuge
Pacific Region
 

Clombian white-tailed deer are an endangered species protected by Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer/USFWS Photo

Translocation - An Effort to Save Columbian White-tailed Deer

Translocation Overview Final Environmental Assessment Progress Reports & Updates
In the News You Can Help! Identification Tips (393 KB PDF)

During the Spring of 2013, Columbian white-tailed deer were translocated from the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near Ridgefield, Washington. The deer were moved to save them from habitat loss due to the impending failure of a dike between the JBH refuge and the Columbia River. If the dike fails, much of the refuge will be flooded, placing the deer at risk. See more about the 2013 emergency effort.

Additional Translocation of Columbian White-tailed Deer

To support the recovery of the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will translocate up to 35 Columbian white-tailed deer from Puget Island, Washington to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer in 2014. An additional 10 to 20 Columbian white-tailed deer could be translocated in 2015.

The final Environmental Assessment for the translocation and an accompanying finding of no significant impact is now available to the public. The Service developed a draft EA and solicited public comment from December 12, 2013 to January 12, 2014. Review the response to public comments.

You Can Help!

Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD) have recently been relocated and are adjusting to their new home at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. If you spot one, please give it plenty of room and report your sighting. Avoid disturbing the animal. CWTD are protected under both Federal and State law. Killing, hunting, harming or harassing them is prohibited.

Download a poster for identification clues and more information.

View additional identification tips

If you see a Columbian white-tailed deer (with ear tags and/or radio collar) near Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge or would like more information, please call 360-887-2122.

 

Columbian white-tailed deer are unique to southwest Washington and western Oregon and are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Ridgefield NWR is within their historical range and contains suitable habitat. The USFWS captured and moved the deer in partnership with the Cowlitz Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Deer were also moved from Puget Island to Cottonwood Island to improve genetic diversity in an existing population. Read the recently published Five Year Review for Columbian White-tailed Deer.

Progress Reports & Updates

Translocation efforts and monitoring are on-going. We invite you to return here for project reports and updates.

January 27, 2014

To support the recovery of the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will translocate up to 35 Columbian white-tailed deer from Puget Island, Washington to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer in 2014. An additional 10 to 20 Columbian white-tailed deer could be translocated in 2015.

“Translocating the Columbian white-tailed deer is an important way to support the recovery of this endangered species,” said Julia Butler Hansen Refuge manager Jackie Ferrier. “Previous translocations have expanded the population from the area just around Cathlamet and Westport to the Columbia River Valley as far as Ridgefield, Washington, bringing it closer to the possibility of being removed from the endangered species list.”

The final Environmental Assessment for the translocation and an accompanying finding of no significant impact is now available to the public. Review the response to public comments.
December 12, 2013 Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for additional translocation available for public review and comment. Access the draft EA (2.2 MB PDF)
November 2013 Columbian White-tailed Deer Five Year Review is published. Read the review...
September 5th First Columbian white-tailed fawn sighted at Ridgefield NWR.
Week of Apr. 15th

The recent effort to relocate endangered Columbian white-tailed deer from Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge ended on a successful note. Since translocation began on January 29, 2013 a total of 37 Columbian white-tailed were translocated to Ridgefield NWR and 12 were translocated to Cottonwood Island since captures began on January 29.  

The goals of the relocation were to protect the deer and stabilize an existing population on Cottonwood Island. If the deer had not been moved, the entire population was at risk from an eroding dyke that stands between the refuge and the mighty Columbia River. As a result of the successful translocation of the 49 deer, the population is now protected. Additionally, for the first time in many years, there will be a population of Columbian white-tailed deer on Ridgefield NWR - a part of their historic range from which they were extirpated. However, after being relocated to Ridgefield, 10 deer have died – two were hit by cars after moving off of the refuge post-relocation, several died as a result of likely predator attacks and the rest died of unknown causes. Only two deer died during the relocation itself. It is important to note that these loses roughly equate to a mortality rate which is close to the natural mortality rate for the Columbian white-tail deer population, typically between 15% - 20%.

The deer were moved using a variety of methods and multiple efforts that included U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge staff, partners and volunteers from the local community.

Safely capturing, moving and protecting the 49 deer was the result of successful partnerships. Jackie Ferrier, Project Leader for Willapa NWR Complex, said, “We sincerely appreciate all of the hard working volunteers**, dedicated veterinarians, amazing partners – especially the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Army Corps of Engineers - as well as our own USFWS staff.  Each of you contributed your time, energy, resources and so much more to this emergency Columbian white-tailed deer translocation.  Outstanding job everyone.  Thank you so very much!”

**Volunteers contributed 708 hours to this project. Their contributions equal more than $15,000 in savings for the government.

Week of Apr. 8th

Ridgefield NWR:  No deer were captured this week for translocation to Ridgefield NWR.  A total of thirty-seven deer including fourteen bucks and twenty-three does (twenty-one adults, ten yearlings and six fawns) have been translocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of April 8, three of the translocated deer with radio collars were located outside the refuge boundary.  A total of seven deer (three yearling does, two adult does, and two fawn does) have died since the translocation to Ridgefield NWR began on January 29. 

Cottonwood Island:  Two deer were captured this week at Puget Island and released on Cottonwood Island.  A total of twelve deer (three yearlings, three adult bucks, three adult does and three fawns) have been released on Cottonwood Island and three deer have died (adult buck and two yearling does) since the translocation began on March 12.  As of April 9, three of the translocated deer have moved off of the island. 

This was the final week of deer capture efforts for both JBH Refuge and Puget Island. Monitoring of deer populations on Ridgefield NWR and Cottonwood Island will continue.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sincerely appreciates all of the hard working volunteers, dedicated veterinarians, amazing partners (especially Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Army Corps of Engineers and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) and our own tireless USFWS staff who contributed their time, energy and resources to this emergency Columbian white-tailed deer translocation.  We could not have done this without you.  Outstanding job everyone.  Thank you!

Week of Apr. 1st

Ridgefield NWR:  Two deer (adult buck and adult doe) were captured on Puget Island this week and released on Ridgefield NWR.  A total of thirty-seven deer including fourteen bucks and twenty-three does (twenty-one adults, ten yearlings and six fawns) have been translocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of April 4, four of the translocated deer with radio collars were located outside the refuge boundary. A total of seven deer (three yearling does, two adult does, and two fawn does) have died since the translocation to Ridgefield NWR began on January 29. 

Cottonwood Island:  Five deer were captured this week at Puget Island and released on Cottonwood Island.  A total of ten deer (three yearlings, three adult bucks, two adult does and two fawns) have been released on Cottonwood Island and two deer have died (adult buck and yearling doe) since the translocation began on March 12.  As of April 3, all of the remaining deer have remained on the island.

Week of Mar. 25th

Ridgefield NWR:  One deer (adult buck) was captured on the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge this week.  A total of thirty-five deer including thirteen bucks and twenty-two does (nineteen adults, ten yearlings and six fawns) have been translocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of March 27, four of the translocated deer with radio collars were located outside the refuge boundary. A total of seven deer (three yearling does, two adult does, and two fawn does) have died since the translocation to Ridgefield NWR began on January 29. 

Cottonwood Island:  One deer (yearling doe) was captured this week at Puget Island and released on Cottonwood Island.  A total of five deer (three yearlings, adult buck and fawn buck) have been released on Cottonwood Island and one deer has died (adult buck) since the translocation began on March 12.  As of March 27 all deer translocated to Cottonwood Island remained on the island. 

Week of Mar. 18th

Ridgefield NWR:  Twelve deer were captured on the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge this week.  A total of thirty-four deer including twelve bucks and twenty-two does (eighteen adults, ten yearlings and six fawns) have been translocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of March 22, four of the translocated deer with radio collars had been located outside the refuge boundary.  A total of six deer (three yearling does, two adult does, and fawn doe) have died since the translocation to Ridgefield NWR began on January 29.

Cottonwood Island:  Two deer (yearling doe and fawn doe) were captured this week at Puget Island and released on Cottonwood Island.  A total of four deer (two yearlings, adult buck and fawn buck) have been released on Cottonwood Island and one deer has died (adult buck) since the translocation began on March 12.  As of March 18, the yearling buck translocated to Cottonwood Island on March 12 remained on the island. 

Week of Mar. 11th

Ridgefield NWR: No deer were captured on the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge this week.  A total of twenty-two deer including eight bucks and fourteen does (eleven adults, seven yearlings and four fawns) have been released on Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of March 12, two of the translocated deer with radio collars have been located outside the boundaries of Ridgefield NWR.  A total of four deer (2 yearlings and 2 adult does) have been found deceased.

Cottonwood Island:  Two deer (an adult buck and a yearling buck) were captured this week at Puget Island.  The yearling buck was translocated to Cottonwood Island.  Sadly, the adult buck died during transport to Cottonwood Island. 

Week of Mar. 4th

One deer, a single adult buck was captured with drop nets this week.  A total of twenty-two deer including eight bucks and fourteen does (eleven adults, seven yearlings and four fawns) have been relocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of March 8, two of the translocated deer with radio collars have been located outside the boundaries of Ridgefield NWR.  A total of four deer (2 yearlings and 2 adult does) have been found deceased.

Week of Feb. 25th

Six deer (four does and two bucks) were captured with drop nets this week.  A total of twenty-one deer including seven bucks and fourteen does (ten adults, seven yearlings and four fawns) have been relocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of March 1, one of the translocated deer with radio collars has been located outside the boundaries of the Ridgefield NWR.  A total of three deer (2 yearlings and an adult doe) have been found deceased.

Week of Feb. 18th

This week one yearling doe was captured. The deer was caught using a tranquilizer dart on February 21.  The deer was ear tagged, radio collared and then transported and released on the Ridgefield NWR. 

A total of fifteen deer including five bucks and ten does (seven adults, six yearlings and two fawns) have been relocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  As of February 22, two of the translocated deer with radio collars have been located outside the boundaries of the Ridgefield NWR.  One doe was found deceased in agricultural lands to the west of the refuge on February 15. 

Week of Feb. 11th

A total of five deer (two yearling bucks, one yearling doe, one adult buck and one adult does) were captured this week. One deer was darted, one was caught by drive netting and three were caught by drop netting.  All the deer were ear tagged and radio collared.  The deer were then transported to and released on the Ridgefield NWR.  A total of fourteen deer have been relocated to the Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29.  All but one of translocated deer with operating radio collars has been located on the Ridgefield NWR.  

Week of Feb. 5th

This week, eight deer (two fawns, one yearling buck and four adult does) were captured in drop net stations and one adult doe was captured during drive netting.  All of the deer were ear tagged and the adult does were radio collared. The deer were transported to and released on the Ridgefield NWR. 

A total of nine deer have been relocated to Ridgefield NWR since capture efforts began the week of January 29th. All translocated deer, with operating radio collars, have been located close to their release sites at Ridgefield NWR.

January 31 First deer transferred today! A doe was captured in a drop net station. She was fitted with a radio collar and ear-tagged. The doe was then transported to Ridgefield NWR and released into her new home.
January 30 Drive netting took place today. Only one male fawn was caught. Because his mother could not be located to be moved with him, the fawn was ear tagged and released back into Julia Butler Hansen NWR.
January 29 Today, staff made their first attempts to capture deer at Julia Butler Hansen NWR. No deer were caught at the drop net stations, although they have been very interested in the bait.

Deer Translocation In the News

Follow the links below to read more about the Columbian White-tailed Deer Translocation Efforts...

Endangered species may be present in unexpected areas during fall hunting season

Follow this link to read the press release

View identification tips

 

Chopper to Join Effort to Move Deer

The Lewiston Tribune

Follow this link to watch a video...

Helicopter Net Gun Catches Deer Near Cathlamet

Longview Daily News

Follow this link to the online article...

Up and Away - Endangered deer get ride out of threatened refuge

KATU Channel 2 News

Follow this link to watch a video...

Relocating Endangered Deer

Natalie St. John/ Longview Daily News

View images and read a blog about deer translocation efforts.

Chooper Crew Nabs a Dozen Deer at Wahkiakum Reserve

Longview Daily News

Follow this link to the online article...

Endangered deer arriving at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

The Reflector

Follow this link to the online article...

Dept. of Fish and Wildlife tries 'unprecedented' deer rescue mission

Q13 Fox Seattle/Tacoma - Feb. 19, 2013

Follow this link to watch a video...

Relocating An Endangered Deer

Northwest Public Radio - Feb. 15, 2013

Follow this link to listen...

Relocation of Endangered Deer a Slow, Dangerous Process

The Daily News - Feb. 13, 2013

Follow this link to the online article...

Translocated deer are fitted with eartags and tracking collars so they may be monitored at their new refuge.

A Columbian white-tailed deer is released at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge/ Natalie St. John, The Daily News

Moving Day for Deer (PDF 12KB)

Chinook Observer - Feb. 12, 2013

Follow this link to the online article...

 

 

View Photos on Damian Mulinix's Blog

One of the techniques used to capture Columbian white-tailed deer is to employ a drop net. Deer are baited with apples to an area where a net has been hung. USFWS staff watch and wait until deer gather at the bait station, and then the net is dropped on the deer. Netted deer are immediately blindfolded and hobbled to calm them. They are attended by a wildlife veternarian while samples are taken to determine health and they are fiitted with an ear tag and tracking collar. Deer are placed into a crate for transfer to Ridgefield NWR. From capture to crate, the process takes only about 20 minutes.

Damian Mulinix is a staff photojournalist at the Chinook Oberver

Columbian white-tailed deer are caught in a drop net as part of the translocation effort/Photo Courtesy of Damian Mulinix

Emergency Translocation Efforts in 2013

As part of the emergency effort in 2013, the Service developed a Draft Environmental Assessment was prepared and solicited public comment. The Final Environmental Assessment addresses those comments. The agency also held informational workshops in Ridgefield and on Sauvie Island in Oregon. The Fish and Wildlife Service thanks everyone who commented or attended the workshops. Final documents are availble for review below:

For more information about the emergency translocation, read through the Question and Answers Sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: March 27, 2014