Sea otter and other animals protected status being reviewed

State wildlife managers are asking for recommendations from the public on an option to keep the pygmy rabbit and grizzly bear on the state’s endangered species list, and to downlist the sea otter from endangered to threatened.

This is part of the periodic reviews that Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hold on protected species within the state.

The public can comment on the listing recommendations through May 9, 2018.

The draft reviews on the sea otter, pygmy rabbit, and grizzly bear are available online at

Guess who’s excited? This otter from Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. While it looks like this otter is clapping, it’s conserving heat by keeping its paws from getting wet. Photo by Lisa Hupp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Locally, the sea otter has been classified as a state endangered species in Washington since 1981, and the approximately 1,700 of the animals are limited to the Washington coast.

In a report, WDFW says that the population remains at risk from disease, toxins, the effects of climate change, and the possibility of a catastrophic event such as a large oil spill along Washington’s coast, although with a steady and substantial increase in their numbers, the sea otter is no longer “seriously threatened with extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the state”, and they recommend they be now downlisted.

WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to meet with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at a June meeting to discuss the possible changes.

The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage at https://

Currently, 44 species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection as state endangered, threatened or sensitive species.

You can read all of the reports on the animals, and provide your comments  by email to or by mail to;

Hannah Anderson
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 43141
Olympia, WA 98504-3200.


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