Species Fact Sheet Columbian white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus leucurus
Columbia River PopulationSTATUS: ENDANGEREDCRITICAL HABITAT: NONEDouglas County PopulationSTATUS: DELISTED
Columbian white-tailed deer potentially occurs in these Oregon counties: Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah (Map may reflect historical as well as recent sightings)
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
was subsequently listed as endangered. Since then, the Douglas County population rebounded
and was delisted in
July 2003. In November 2013, the USFWS released a five-year status review for the Lower Columbia River population. The review determined that the population has met the critieria for downlisting from endangered to threatened.
Historical Status and
The Columbian white-tailed deer is the western-most subspecies of white-tailed
deer which occurs throughout North America. Early records indicate that
Columbian white-tailed deer were once quite numerous over its historic
range, from the western slopes of the Cascade
Mountains to the ocean and from Puget Sound in Washington southward
to the Umpqua River Basin in southern Oregon. This subspecies of
white-tailed deer became endangered throughout its range due to
habitat modification by human activities, such as farming and logging,
as well as commercial and residential development. Overhunting and
poaching also contributed to the decline. The remaining Columbian
white-tailed deer occur in two separate populations. The Lower Columbia
River population is found in Wahkiakum and Cowlitz Counties, Washington,
and Clatsop and Columbia Counties, Oregon. The Douglas County population
is found in the Umpqua River Basin, Douglas County, Oregon. When
the Columbian white-tailed deer was listed, the number of deer
remaining was estimated to be less than 1,000 individuals. Under
the protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, the Douglas
County population has increased to over 5,000 animals. The Lower
Columbia River population suffered heavy losses due to extensive
flooding of its habitat in 1996; however, it is expected to recover
to pre-flood numbers within a few years.
Columbian white-tailed deer are closely associated with riparian
(riverside) habitats in both the Lower Columbia River and Douglas
County populations. The deer found on islands in the Columbia
River use "tidal spruce" habitats characterized by densely
forested swamps covered with tall shrubs and scattered spruce,
alder, cottonwood and willows. In Douglas County, the deer use
willow and cottonwood habitats along rivers and streams, and are
also found in oak-savannah habitats in the upland areas.
Only the buck (male) deer have antlers, which are shed each winter.
New antlers grow in early spring and reach full size in late summer.
Breeding activity, referred to as the rutting period, begins the
first week of November and lasts a month or more. Does (females)
have a gestation period of approximately 210 days, with the peak
of fawning occurring in mid-to-late June. Does give birth to one
or two fawns, with an occasional doe producing triplets. Fawns stay
with their mother until just prior to the next fawning season when
the doe goes off by herself to give birth to the next generation.
Protection under the Endangered Species Act has resulted in acquisition,
protection, and improvement of habitat, which has allowed the
two populations to increase in size. A recovery plan was developed
for the two populations of Columbian white-tailed deer in 1983.
Many of the tasks identified in the Recovery Plan have been implemented.
In 1972, the Julia
Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed
Deer was established in Wahkiakum County, Washington.
County, the Bureau of Land Management acquired a large parcel
of habitat, known as the North Bank Habitat Management Area (NBHMA), through a
land exchange specifically to benefit the Columbian white-tailed
deer. This parcel alone provides over 6,000 acres of good habitat
for the deer. The USFWS has coordinated with the BLM and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at the NBHMA to accomplish recovery of the Columbian white-tailed deer. The acquisition and management of the NBHMA was instrumental in the delisting of the deer in 2003.