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Tufted Puffin endangered status up for review as local numbers decline

The future of puffins in north Grays Harbor and another endangered species in the Pacific Northwest is up for public comment.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is inviting comments on draft status review and a new recovery plan for the tufted puffin, as well as a review of the status of the Oregon silverspot butterfly.

WDFW is recommending keeping both species on the state’s endangered species list.

The Tufted Puffin breeding colonies are listed as sitting along the Washington coast from Point Grenville north to Cape Flattery.

WDFW says that prior to 1978, there were nine colonies in Washington with at least 1,000 birds, but by 2007–2014, the state had no colonies of that size remaining and only three estimated to contain 100–200 individuals.

In Grays Harbor, the 2010 numbers show only 25 of the birds at Puffin Rock and only 7 at a high count for Willoughby Rock.

The tufted puffin, recognizable by its thick red bill and whitish tufts, spends the winter at sea, and nests during spring and summer in coastal colonies from California north to Alaska. Once common along the Washington coast, puffins have suffered a dramatic population decline in recent years.

As discussed in the draft status review, possible reasons for this rapid decline include a reduction in available prey, predation at nesting colonies, and factors related to climate change. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, listed the tufted puffin as endangered in 2015.

The draft status review and recovery plan for the tufted puffin is available on the department’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02051/.

The Oregon silverspot butterfly was historically found along the coast from Grays Harbor County to northern California, but disappeared from Washington in the 1980s.The species was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1980, and as endangered under state law in 1993.

WDFW has been working with a variety of partners since 1990 to restore suitable habitat for Oregon silverspot butterflies with the goal of eventually reintroducing them to the state.

The draft status review for the Oregon silverspot butterfly is posted at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02052/.

The department will accept public comments on those documents through May 17.

Written comments on documents for both species can be submitted via email to [email protected] or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.


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