Columbian White-tailed Deer Translocation

Translocation of Columbian white-tailed deer is an important management tool to ensure species recovery/Photo Courtesy of Tim Jewitt

Translocation of Columbian white-tailed deer is an important management tool to ensure species recovery.

“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.”

During the Spring of 2013, 37 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 had failed, much of the refuge would have flooded, placing the deer at risk. A setback levee has since been built by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the refuge and surrounding lands. Learn more about the 2013 emergency effort.

Additional Translocations of Columbian White-tailed Deer

To support the recovery of the then endangered Columbian white-tailed deer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service translocated an additional 50 Columbian white-tailed deer from Puget Island, Washington and Westport, Oregon to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in 2014 and 2015 (CWTD were reclassified to threatened status in 2016). The JBH Mainland population has returned to about 120 deer, and the Ridgefield population appears to be thriving, creating what will hopefully be an additional secure and viable subpopulation. Monitoring of the JBH Mainland and Ridgefield NWR subpopulations to ensure they are sustainable and will meet the definition of viable into the future.  

Columbian white-tailed deer are unique to southwest Washington and western Oregon and are listed as threatened 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 , Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Hunters Association, Safari Club International, and with the help of many local volunteers. 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.

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.

Learn about how you can help with translocation efforts...





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.