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Columbian white-tailed deer
(Douglas County DPS)

The Columbian white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucuruswas), found in native tidal spruce forest communities, was once considered abundant in the Willamette, Columbia, and Umpqua River valleys [1]. Populations of this sub-species once numbered in the tens of thousands, but by the early 1900s, the clearing of riparian lands for agriculture and un-restricted hunting drastically reduced populations [1]. By 1940, only two small disjunct populations remained: a population of 200 to 300 in Douglas County, Oregon and a population of 500 to 700 animals along the lower Columbia River in Oregon and Washington [2].

These two populations were listed as separate distinct population Segments under the Endangered Species Act: the Columbia River population, and the Douglas County population [2]. In the 1930s, the Douglas County Columbian white-tailed deer population was estimated at 200 to 300 individuals occupying a range of only about 31 square miles [2]. By 1983, the population had increased to about 2,500 deer [2]. The population has continued to grow and is currently estimated at over 6,000 deer [2]. In addition, the range of this population has expanded to the north and west, and now covers approximately 309 square miles [2]. In 2003, the USFWS determined that the Douglas County white-tailed deer population had recovered and it was removed from the list of endangered species [2].

[1] Pacific Biodiversity Institute. 2001. Columbian white-tailed deer. Website <http://www.pacificbio.org/ESIN/Mammals/ColumbiaWhiteTailedDeer/columbiawhitetaileddeerpg.html> accessed May, 2006.
[2] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule to Remove the Columbian White-Tailed Deer From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. 68 FR 43647 43659

Banner photo © Phillip Colla