For Immediate Release, October 27, 2008
Contact: Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Dusky and Red Tree Voles Considered for Protection Under
Endangered Species Act
PORTLAND, Ore.— In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and three other environmental groups to protect dusky and red tree voles as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined today that the agency will conduct a one year status review to determine if protection is warranted for the voles.
“Dusky and red tree voles are threatened by decades of excessive logging,” said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, which along with the Cascadia Wildlands Project, Oregon Wild, Portland Audubon and the Sierra Club filed the petition. “Without better forest protection, these unique Oregon species are in immediate danger of extinction.”
The dusky tree vole is a subspecies of the red tree vole, which is only found in forests of the Tillamook region along Oregon’s North Coast. The red tree vole is limited to western Oregon. Tree voles live nearly their entire lives in trees and are dependent on structures typically associated with older, unmanaged forests, such as large, wide branches, broken and forked tree tops, and “witches’ brooms” – an abnormal tufted growth of small branches on trees often caused by fungi or viruses.
Dusky tree voles are of particular concern because of the long history of logging and wildfires in the North Coast, including the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests, and because recent surveys failed to locate the voles in places where they were once common.
“For too long, state forests have been a sacrifice zone for industrial forestry,” Greenwald said. “Forest reserves and better forest practices are needed to save the tree vole, salmon and dozens of other wildlife species in the Tillamook.”
Red tree voles were formerly protected on federal forests by the “survey and manage program” of the Northwest Forest Plan, but in recent years the Bush administration has been seeking to halt the program, leaving the species with little to no protection.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with nearly 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
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