The imperiled western gray squirrel needs to be reclassified as endangered to enable long-term conservation efforts.
Conservation Northwest / Oct 20, 2023 / Action Alert, Forest Field Program
The western gray squirrel needs your support!
Washington state’s Endangered Species Act requires the identification and classification of the state’s native wildlife species that are in need of protection in order to ensure their survival. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife administers this statute by recommending to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission which species should be listed and protected.
For more than thirty years the western gray squirrel has only been listed as threatened under state law. Sadly, during that time the species’ numbers have continued to decline—especially in the Columbia River Gorge. WDFW is now formally proposing uplisting the species from threatened to endangered.
WDFW’s proposal will help drive home the dire threats this species is facing and will raise public awareness about the importance of its conservation.
Comments are due by October 27!
Pick the comment method(s) that works best for you: (1) use the “Send Email” option here, (2) type in your own comment on WDFW’s web form, or (3) comment by phone (855-925-2801, project code 6483). For more information, please view WDFW’s public notice. New comments are encouraged, even if you previously commented on this topic back in May.
Please stand with Conservation Northwest and partners like the Friends of the Columbia Gorge in asking WDFW to officially recognize the existential threats facing the western gray squirrel. Together we can help ensure that this amazing species and native Gorge resident has a bright future in Washington!
Here are the nuts and bolts:
- The western gray squirrel is the Pacific Northwest’s largest tree squirrel and was once a common fixture in Washington’s dry forests, from the Puget Trough to Okanogan County. The squirrel plays a key role in forest ecosystems by spreading beneficial fungi that support our region’s iconic forests.
- The western gray squirrel is in danger of extinction throughout its range in Washington due to the warming climate and other human-induced factors. Today, only three isolated populations of the western gray squirrel remain statewide.
- Listing the squirrel as endangered will bring this species’ plight into sharp focus while helping rally public support for its conservation. See the list of supporting documents available to learn more about this proposal.
Western Gray Squirrel
Photos by Matt Danielson
Feel free to adapt our sample letter below and submit your comments to WDFW to improve the long-term conservation efforts of western gray squirrels.
I support uplisting the western gray squirrel from threatened to endangered under Washington law.
Despite being listed as threatened 30 years ago, the Columbia Gorge population of western gray squirrels continues to face rapid decline. This warrants an ‘endangered’ classification for the western gray squirrel, given that the Columbia Gorge is a vital portion of their species range within the state.
Listing the squirrel as endangered will bring this species’ plight into sharp focus while helping rally public support for its conservation. Without WDFW’s help, the western gray squirrel could disappear from Washington’s ecosystems forever. This important species deserves our support.
Thank you for taking the time to read my comment and for your work on this important issue.
Okanogan Forest Sr. Coordinator