Washington Fish and Wildlife Office
Pacific Region

Ongoing Studies


  Chromium Toxicity in a Native Mussel
  Olympic Mudminnow - Western Washington Wetlands Survivor
  Lake Sammamish Kokanee Salmon Supplementation Program
  Elwha River Weir – Monitoring Fish Response to Dam Removal
  Regional Prairie Native Seed Project , Puget Sound, Washington
  Leadbetter Point Western Snowy Plover Recovery Project
  Genetic Assignment of Bull Trout for Relocation Above Swift Dam
  Pygmy Rabbit Reintroduction, Washington
  Translocation of Mazama Pocket Gopher, Washington
  Leadbetter Coastal Restoration, Washington
  North Cascades Rare Carnivore Survey

Regional Prairie Native Seed Project , Puget Sound, Washington

Golden paintbrush (Photo: Ted Thomas, USFWS)
Photo: Ted Thomas (USFWS)

Native prairie habitats have been nearly extirpated from the Puget Sound region and are the most endangered ecosystem in the state. A number of rare and endangered plant and butterfly species are associated with this habitat. Funding will be used to provide crucial restoration information to land managers while restoring expanses of critical habitat for rare species on protected prairie sites. The increased capacity for seed production, and the development and documentation of seed handling techniques associated with this project will have immediate and long lasting benefits for the restoration of rare and endangered species in the region.

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Adaptively improve current methods and develop new native seeding and planting techniques for restoring prairie habitat for endangered butterfly species in Puget Sound.
  2. Increase the total production of native prairie seed in the South and North Sound.
  3. Support the coordination of regional seed production efforts and the development of a best management practices (BMPs) handbook and database.
  4. Conduct experimental plantings of Golden paintbrush in order to establish a viable population of Golden paintbrush in at least one new site.

Contact: Ted Thomas

Species benefitted: Golden paintbrush, Taylor’s checkerspot, Mardon skipper, Valley silverspot

Partners: University of Washington; The Nature Conservancy; Western Washington University; Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR); Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Leadbetter Point Western Snowy Plover Recovery Project

Western snowy plovers (Photo: USFWS)
Photo: USFWS
Western snowy plovers (Photo: USFWS)
Photo: USFWS

The purpose of this project is to identify potential nest predators of the western snowy plover and how they utilize the restoration area at Leadbetter Point, Washington. In 2010, predator monitoring and management activities included:

  • Identifying location and behavior of suspected predators in and adjacent to the restoration area
  • Documentation of predation on western snowy plover
  • Preparing an inventory of potential predator feeding and viewing perch structures
  • Removal of nonessential structures and installation of perching deterrents on remaining structures
  • Assessment of current nest monitoring protocols to minimize the attraction and detection of plover nests by predators

Contact: Martha Jensen

Species benefitted: Western snowy plover

Partners: Willapa National Wildlife Refuge; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Genetic Assignment of Bull Trout for Relocation above Swift Dam

Bull trout (Photo: Joe Sartore)The primary objective of this project is to use genetic population assignments to assess the impact that Swift Dam has on bull trout in the Lewis River system upstream of the dam. Presently, bull trout are observed below the dam and in the Lewis River bypass reach connecting Swift and Yale Reservoirs. These fish are presumed to have originated in tributaries upstream of Swift Dam and are unable to return to natal spawning tributaries due to a lack of fish passage facilities at Swift Dam.

Swift Reservoir (Photo: Noel Johnson)To date, none of these individuals have been transported above the dam due to this uncertainty of their origin. If we determine that bull trout collected below Swift Dam and in the bypass reach do originate from upstream tributaries, we plan to work with PacifiCorp to implement a protocol to provide guidance for upstream fish transport decisions. These actions will directly benefit two local bull trout populations above Swift Dam (Pine and Rush Creeks) by providing increased numbers of spawning adults for these two relatively small populations. Furthermore, this project will help provide fish passage and help maintain a migratory life history component in the Lewis River bull trout population, two actions considered important for species recovery.

Contact: Jeff Chan

Species benefitted: Bull trout

Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Abernathy Fish Technology Center; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Columbia River Fisheries Resource Office; Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife; PacifiCorps

Pygmy Rabbit Reintroduction, Washington

Columbia Basin pygmy rabbitr (Photo: WDFW)
Photo: WDFW
Sagebrush habitat (Photo: Keith Lazelle)
Photo: Keith Lazelle

The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit was listed as endangered in 2003. The last known wild subpopulation was extirpated by early 2004. A captive breeding program was initiated by WDFW to reintroduce the rabbit back into suitable habitats within their historic range. However the program was not successful in providing the number of offspring needed for reintroduction. The objective of this project is to translocate wild pygmy rabbits from adjacent states and the remaining rabbits in captivity to suitable habitat in Washington State, in an attempt to re-establish a population. Wild rabbits will be trapped in fall 2010 and/or late winter 2010/2011, and transported immediately to the selected sites. Roughly 70% of all rabbits will be equipped with radio-transmitters to track survival, dispersal, breeding, and predation.

Contact: Chris Warren

Species benefitted: Pygmy rabbit

Partners: Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife; private landowners; The Nature Conservancy; Washington State University; Bureau of Land Management

Translocation of Mazama Pocket Gopher, Washington

The Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama), restricted to the Pacific Coast, is a Federal candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, a Washington State Threatened Species, and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Washington’s State Wildlife Conservation Strategy. The Mazama pocket gopher faces increasing threats from commercial and residential development which can fragment, isolate, and extirpate populations. Many large protected prairie sites in south Puget Sound, such as West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area (WDFW), Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (WDNR) and Glacial Heritage (Thurston County) currently lack populations of Mazama pocket gopher.

This second year of the project continued to evaluate the feasibility of using translocations as a tool for reducing the likelihood of extinction of Mazama pocket gopher in south Puget Sound. This was accomplished by reintroducing gophers to protected sites and monitoring their survival and site fidelity.

Mazama pocket gopher (Photo: USFWS)
Photo: USFWS
Mazama pocket gopher hole (Photo: USFWS)
Photo: USFWS

Contact: Kim Flotlin

Species benefitted: Mazama pocket gopher

Partners: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife; The Nature Conservancy; Wildlife Conservation Society; Port of Olympia

Leadbetter Coastal Restoration, Washington

Pink sand verbena protected planting area (Photo: USFWS)Restoration of Leadbetter coastal habitat began in 2002. This restoration has directly supported the recovery needs of the western snowy plover, streaked horned lark, and pink sand verbena.

Western snowy plover and streaked horned lark numbers have declined along the U.S. Pacific coast due to habitat loss and expanding predator populations. One of the most significant causes of habitat loss for coastal breeding has been the encroachment of introduced beachgrasses. These grasses outcompete native vegetation, alter the dune ecosystem, and form dense stands that reduce the amount and quality of nesting habitat for native wildlife.

Spreading oyster shell on dunes (Photo: USFWS)Mechanical and chemical removal and control of Ammophila (beachgrasses) have resulted in 350 acres of restored habitat that has successfully attracted nesting plovers and larks and supports a rare plant species. This area supports the only known population of pink sand verbena in Washington State. All three species, snowy plover, streaked horned lark, and pink sand verbena, were closely monitored in 2010.

Contact: Ginger Phalen

Species benefitted: Western snowy plover, streaked-horned lark, and pink sand verbena

Partner: Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

North Cascades Rare Carnivore Survey

Grizzly bears and gray wolf (Photos: USFWS)Efforts to recover and conserve rare carnivores have been underway in the North Cascades for many years. Understanding the current distribution and status of these species is important in determining appropriate recovery actions.

The main objectives of this study are to:

  1. Conduct DNA hair snag surveys and remote camera surveys for rare and listed carnivore species
  2. Obtain a baseline of information about the distribution of grizzly bears and other carnivores in the North Cascades
  3. Coordinate with the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project to provide information about the project and disseminate results.
  4. Outreach to the public
  5. Coordinate sampling with ongoing efforts to understand the effects of highways on carnivores.

Contact: Jodi Bush





Last updated: June 26, 2013
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