November 22, 2004
Oregon to relocate rare white-tail deer
By The Associated Press
MEDFORD, Ore. — State wildlife officials are set to trap and transplant some rare Columbian white-tailed deer around the southern part of the state in an effort to re-establish the former endangered species.
The relocation program is the latest effort to manage white-tails since the federal government removed the isolated deer population from the federal endangered-species list last year.
Biologists plan to focus on capturing family clusters of white-tails on private lands, then releasing them on other low-elevation oak or forestlands where the landowners are cooperative.
First noticed by Lewis and Clark along the lower Columbia River in 1806, the Columbia white-tailed deer once extended along the lower Columbia River and throughout the Willamette and Umpqua basins in lands sandwiched by the Cascade and Coast ranges.
But the draining of their wetland habitats and unrestricted hunting whittled the white-tails down to two remnant populations. The deer were considered endangered in 1967, a decade before the Endangered Species Act was created. At that time, the population was estimated at less than 500 animals, and all hunting was halted.
County, state and federal authorities launched a recovery plan that set a goal of rebuilding the Umpqua herds to 1,500 animals. The plan also set a goal of having at least 500 deer living in at least 5,500 acres of "secure" habitat.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management acquired a 6,580-acre ranch and designated it white-tail habitat.
By 1996, Douglas County sported a white-tail population of around 5,000 animals, and the Umpqua's white-tails became the first mammal dropped from state's endangered-species list. Federal endangered status was lifted last year.
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