endangered species


California blue whales have rebounded after decades of commercial whaling.

New research from the University of Washington suggests their numbers are back to where they were before humans started hunting the species. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is postponing a controversial decision on whether to list the Mazama pocket gopher as a threatened species in the South Puget Sound area.

Washington State manager Ken Berg says his agency wants six additional months to consider input from upset landowners and affected counties. Berg says farmers and ranchers in Thurston County claim there are more pocket gophers than the government realizes and that they can co-exist with human activity.

chasedekker photo / Flickr

  The charismatic black and white killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has rejected a call to de-list resident orcas. 

Tom Banse

The Northwest may have another species listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday proposed listing the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened in the South Puget Sound region of western Washington.

This is the third time this fall the government has moved to protect a critter that depends on dwindling Northwest prairies or coastal grasslands. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Olympia.

One of the northwest’s most controversial birds is still ruffling feathers. The elusive spotted owl was at the heart of the timber wars here in the 1990s. Some scientists are criticizing the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to log some of the bird’s habitat.

The Associated Press

EPHRATA, Wash. — Biologists went to check on endangered pygmy rabbits in a remote area of Columbia Basin sagebrush near Ephrata and found they've been reproducing like rabbits.

State Fish and Wildlife biologists told The Wenatchee World they 80 baby pygmy rabbits they found last week in the Sage Brush Flat Wildlife Area is more than they expected.

Three environmental groups intend to take Oregon's Department of Forestry to court over the effect logging has on a threatened seabird.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Zoo

Biologists say the endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is breeding for the first time in a decade in its native habitat.

Wildlife managers are re-introducing the tiny rabbit on a wildlife reserve near Ephrata in Central Washington. They've confirmed several litters in a six-acre enclosure there.

Associated Press

Scientists have a new concern about the killer whales that spend their summer in the Puget Sound. The orcas have been breeding within their own family groups, which may mean the population is more fragile than scientists thought.

Conservation Northwest

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is developing a proposal that could make this year's wolf hunting season even more controversial. It would allow wolf hunting in most parts of Idaho without a cap on the total number of wolves being killed. As correspondent Jessica Robinson reports, that news from Idaho comes on the same day Washington announces some new wolf numbers of its own.

Joe Sebille / Courtesy of Conservation Northwest

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a hiker's photo confirms a sighting of a grizzly bear in Washington state's North Cascades for the first time in perhaps half a century.

Associated Press

A new plan released yesterday for saving the northern spotted owl is taking aim – maybe literally – at a rival bird.

Federal agency leaders said Thursday the spotted owl is losing out to a bigger, more aggressive invader from the eastern United States, the barred owl.

However, one biologist whose research led to the listing of the spotted owl believes shooting and other measures to control the barred owl are too little too late.  Because, he lamented, the spotted owl's population has shrunk over the last 15 years in spite of conservation efforts. (Interactive map inside)

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

The population of the Red Wolf Woods exhibit at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium just tripled in size. A new pair of wolves has arrived from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

The wolves, Wilson and Havana, are a non-breeding pair. They're on display in an area separate from the exhibit's other resident, Graham.

Photo by Jim Thrailkill / USFWS

It’s an icon of the northwest.

With its muted brown feathers and dark eyes, the northern spotted owl doesn’t look all that impressive. But scientists say its survival indicates the health of the entire forest ecosystem. That’s why conservationists want the government to protect more of the old-growth habitat spotted owls prefer.

But a recovery plan for the owl due for release this morning is ruffing feathers.

Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Just a day away from public viewing, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium has released a new photo (above) and a new video of the newborn clouded leopard cubs.

Cattlemen and hunting groups contend a proposed plan for managing and restoring gray wolves in Washington state allows for too many wolves.

A 17-member citizen advisory group has been meeting for nearly five years about how best to recover wolves in their historic territory while reducing and managing wolf-livestock conflicts.

Jack Field of the Washington Cattlemen Association says the number of wolves overall should be capped.

Going on a whale watching tour is a popular activity in the border waters between Washington State and British Columbia. New rules that take effect  Monday require vessels to give a wider berth to the iconic resident killer whales. KPLU's Tom Banse reports from one of the home ports of the whale watching fleet, in Victoria.

Gary Kramer / USFWS

Environmental groups say a provision in the compromise budget deal in Congress sets a dangerous precedent for endangered species. Congress expects to vote on the bill today. It includes an amendment to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.


Next time you go whale watching on Puget Sound, be sure to take your binoculars. Soon, you’ll have to stay twice as far from the endangered killer whales as before. 

Mark Malleson / Courtesy of orcanetwork.org

The oldest and perhaps most-recognizable of the local killer whales is missing and researchers fear he may have died over the winter.

The orca known to researchers as J-1 was last seen on November 21st near Victoria, B.C. Also known as “Ruffles,” for the wavy edge to his distinctive six-foot-tall dorsal fin, J-1 was believed to be about 60 years old. He was one of the first individual orcas to be identified by researchers in the early 19-70s.


One of the rarest mammals in North America is staging a comeback here in the Northwest. Wildlife biologists have tracked wolverines on mountainsides where they haven't been seen in many decades. But several new studies also suggest the recovery could be short lived if mountain snowlines retreat due to global warming.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Java, a 12-year-old, an endangered Sumatran tiger, is leaving his home at Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to find love at the Dallas Zoo. His keepers tried to mate him with the zoo's female tiger, Jaya, but that didn't work out and she mated with Java's brother, Bali, instead. Jaya gave birth to cubs Bima and Mali last May.