science environment

Feds: Oregon's Red Tree Vole Needs Protection

By David Steves (OPB)
Oct. 12, 2011 4:30 p.m.

PORTLAND -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday ruled the North Oregon Coast's red tree vole warrants protection -- but acknowledged this mammal won't make it onto the official list of endangered or threatened species any time soon.

The range of the North Oregon Coast population of red tree voles encompasses the Oregon Coast Range from the Siuslaw River north to the Columbia River, in all of Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook and Lincoln Counties and the western portions of Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Polk, Benton, Lane and Douglas Counties. More than 60 percent of the area is privately owned, about 16 percent is state-owned land and 22 percent is federal land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.


(Red Tree Vole/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


“As a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection, this red tree vole population will benefit from our proactive conservation efforts with partners and citizens, and those measures may help deter a future listing,” said Paul Henson, State Supervisor of the Service’s Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office.

Although the federal agency has determined the vole warrants protection, it also noted in its announcement that "listing it at this time is precluded by higher priority listing actions."

The decision comes in response to a 2007 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups and in accordance with a landmark legal settlement reached earlier this year between the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service to expedite protection decisions for 757 species across the country.

Red tree vole potentially occurs in the areas marked in green. The candidate vole population occupies about a quarter of this range in the northwestern part of Oregon along the Coast Range. Map may reflect historical as well as recent sightings. Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Today’s decision confirms that red tree voles in Oregon’s North Coast need Endangered Species Act protection if they are to have any chance at survival,” said Noah Greenwald, the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center’s endangered species director. “We hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will prioritize funding to protect this irreplaceable animal.”