[Federal Register: December 29, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 249)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 72992-72993]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF43

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of the 
Comment Period on the Proposed Delisting of the Douglas County 
Population of the Columbian White-Tailed Deer

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), provide notice of 
the reopening of the comment period for the proposed delisting of the 
Douglas County, Oregon population of the Columbian white-tailed deer 
(Odocoileus virginianus leucurus). The comment period has been reopened 
in order to provide the three independent peer reviewers an opportunity 
to review previous public comments, and any additional public comments, 
on the proposed rule.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by January 
13, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Written comments, materials, data, and reports concerning 
this proposal should be sent to the Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Southwest Oregon Field Office, 2900 NW Stewart Parkway, 
Roseburg, Oregon 97470. Comments and materials received will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours, at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Peterson, at the address listed 
above (telephone 541/957-3474; facsimile 541/957-3475).



    The Columbian white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus) 
resembles other white-tailed deer subspecies, ranging in size from 39 
to 45 kilograms (kg) (85 to 100 pounds (lbs) for females and 52 to 68 
kg (115 to 150 lbs) for males. Generally a red-brown color in summer, 
and gray in winter, the species has white rings around the eyes and a 
white ring just behind the nose. Its tail is long and triangular in 
shape, and is brown on the dorsal (upper) surface, fringed in white, 
and the ventral (under) portion is white (Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife (ODFW) 1995). The species was formerly distributed throughout 
the bottomlands and prairie woodlands of the lower Columbia, 
Willamette, and Umpqua River basins in Oregon and southern Washington 
(Bailey 1936). It is the westernmost representative of the 38 
subspecies of white-tailed deer. Early accounts suggested this deer was 
locally common, particularly in riparian areas along the major rivers 
(Gavin 1978). The decline in deer numbers was rapid with the arrival 
and settlement of pioneers in the fertile river valleys. Conversion of 
brushy riparian land to agriculture, urbanization, uncontrolled sport 
and commercial hunting, and perhaps other factors apparently caused the 
extirpation of this deer over most of its range by the early 1900s 
(Gavin 1984). Only a small herd of 200 to 400 animals in the lower 
Columbia River area of Clatsop and Columbia Counties, Oregon, and 
Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties, Washington, and a disjunct population 
of unknown size in Douglas County,

[[Page 72993]]

Oregon, survived. These two remnant populations are geographically 
separated by about 320 kilometers (km) (200 miles (mi)) of unsuitable 
or discontinuous habitat.
    Population declines led to classification of this subspecies as 
endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Protection Act of 1966 
(32 FR 4001). The subspecies was automatically included in the lists of 
threatened and endangered species when the Endangered Species Act was 
authorized in 1973 (16 U.S. C. 1531 et seq.). Prior to 1977, only the 
Columbia River population was listed as endangered since the Douglas 
County population was considered a black-tailed deer (Odocoileus 
hemionus columbiana) or a hybrid between the black-tailed deer and the 
Columbian white-tailed deer by the State of Oregon. In 1978, the State 
of Oregon recognized the white-tailed deer population in Douglas County 
as the Columbian white-tailed deer and prohibited hunting of white-
tailed deer in that county (ODFW 1995). The Columbian White-tailed Deer 
Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) was approved by us in 1976, and a revised 
version was approved in 1983 (Service 1983). Because of the distance 
between the Douglas County and Columbia River populations, and 
differences in habitats and threats, the Recovery Plan addresses the 
recovery of these two populations separately.
    Crews (1939) estimated the population in the 1930s in Douglas 
County at 200 to 300 individuals within a range of about 78 square 
kilometers (sq km) (30 square miles (sq mi)). In 1970, ODFW estimated 
that 450 to 500 deer were present. By 1983, the number had increased to 
about 2,500 (Smith 1985). The population has continued to grow, and are 
presently estimated to be between 5,900 to 7,900 deer (ODFW 1999).
    Along with this increase in numbers, the range also has expanded. 
The deer have expanded to the north and west in the last 10 years, and 
now occupy an area of approximately 800 sq km (308 sq mi) (ODFW 1995).
    Most habitat for the Douglas County population is on private lands. 
Approximately 3,880 hectares (ha) (9,586 acres (ac)) of suitable 
habitat are presently considered secure on Federal, County and private 
lands. For the purpose of delisting, habitat is considered secure if it 
is protected by legally binding measures or law from adverse human 
activities for the foreseeable future.
    The current total population size is estimated as approximately six 
times the population size required for downlisting, which greatly 
reduces the risk to the population. It is also anticipated that as 
habitat management and restoration activities are implemented by the 
Bureau of Land Management, which contains the majority of secure lands, 
the carrying capacity and numbers of deer on these lands will increase 
accordingly. The Douglas County population has met the objectives in 
the Recovery Plan, and greatly exceeded the habitat objectives.
    We published a proposed rule to delist the Columbian white-tailed 
deer on May 11, 1999 (64 FR 25263). The original comment period closed 
on June 25, 1999. We reopened the comment period on November 3, 1999 
(64 FR 59729) to conduct a peer review of the proposal, and solicited 
the opinions of three appropriate and independent specialists regarding 
the data, assumptions, and supportive information presented for the 
Douglas County population of Columbian white-tailed deer, per our 
Interagency Cooperative policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species 
Act Activities (59 FR 34270). We are reopening the comment period again 
in order to provide the three independent peer reviewers an opportunity 
to review previous public comments, and any additional public comments, 
on the proposed rule.

References Cited

Bailey, V. 1936. The mammals and life zones of Oregon. North 
American Fauna. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 55: 
Crews, A.K. 1939. A study of the Oregon white-tailed deer, 
Odocoileus virginianus leucurus (Douglas). M.S. thesis. Oregon State 
College. Corvallis. 46 pp.
Gavin, T.A. 1984. Pacific Northwest. in: White-tailed deer, ecology 
and management. L. K. Halls, editor. A Wildlife Management Institute 
publication. Pages 491-492.
Gavin, T.A. 1978. Status of the Columbian white-tailed deer: some 
quantitative uses of biogeographic data. Pages 185-202 in: 
Threatened Deer. IUCN. Morges, Switzerland. 434 pp.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 1999. Deer census and 
population trend data. Unpublished ODFW report, Southwest Regional 
Office. 4 pages.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 1995. Columbian white-tailed 
deer biological status assessment. Report to Oregon Fish and 
Wildlife Commission. 83 pp.
Smith, W.P. 1985. Current geographic distribution and abundance on 
the Columbian white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus leucurus 
(Douglas). Northwest Science 59:243-251.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. Revised Columbian white-
tailed deer recovery plan. Portland, Oregon. 75 pp.


    The primary author of this notice is Barbara Behan of the Regional 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, 
Oregon 97232-4181 (telephone 503/231-6131).


    The authority of this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
Thomas J. Dwyer,
Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-33735 Filed 12-28-99; 8:45 am]