State seeks comment on endangered status of butterflies, puffins

OLYMPIA — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is inviting public comment on draft status reviews of the Oregon silverspot butterfly and the tufted puffin, along with a new recovery plan for the distinctive seabird.

In those documents, the state recommends keeping both species on the state’s endangered species list.

The draft status review and recovery plan for the tufted puffin is available on the department’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/ publications/02051.

The draft status review for the Oregon silverspot butterfly is posted at wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02052.

The department will accept public comments on those documents through May 17.

The tufted puffin, recognizable by its thick red bill and whitish tufts, spends the winter at sea, and nests during spring and summer in coastal colonies from California north to Alaska.

Once common along the Washington coast, puffins have suffered a dramatic population decline in recent years. The Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge near Port Townsend is one of the few areas they still nest in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

As discussed in the draft status review, possible reasons for this rapid decline include a reduction in available prey, predation at nesting colonies and factors related to climate change.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission listed the tufted puffin as endangered in 2015.

The Oregon silverspot butterfly was historically found along the coast from Grays Harbor County to northern California, but disappeared from Washington in the 1980s.

The species was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1980, and as endangered under state law in 1993.

The state has been working with a variety of partners since 1990 to restore suitable habitat for Oregon silverspot butterflies with the goal of eventually reintroducing them to the state.

Written comments on documents for both species can be submitted via email to [email protected] or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.

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