The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host public information workshops January 22 and January 23, 2013, to discuss its emergency plans to relocate up to 50 Columbian white-tailed deer from the Julia Butler Hanson Refuge for Columbian White-tailed Deer to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near Ridgefield, Washington.
Steamboat Slough dike, a dike owned and maintained by Diking District #4 along the Columbia River boundary of the JBH Refuge, is eroding and is likely to fail at any time. A dike breach would inundate the JBH Refuge mainland unit and place the approximately 100 Columbian white-tailed deer inhabiting the Refuge at extreme risk. Managers believe that, in the event of a breach and subsequent flooding, the majority of these deer will be displaced or die, setting recovery efforts back significantly. The proposed emergency translocation is an attempt to minimize loss of deer and maintain efforts toward recovery under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Although technology exists to fix the impending dike breach, there are no funds available for the effort at this time. Plans for a longer-term remedy are under consideration but cannot be completed in time to prevent a potential dike breach this winter.
Columbian white-tailed deer are unique to western Washington and Oregon and are listed as an Endangered Species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Ridgefield NWR is within their historical range and contains suitable habitat.
The workshops are scheduled for January 22 at the Ridgefield Community Center, and January 23 at the Sauvie Island Academy, 14445 NW Charlton Road, Portland, Oregon 97231. The information sessions at both locations will be from 3 pm to 5 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm.