WSR 23-19-043
[23-09—Filed September 13, 2023, 1:54 p.m.]
Continuance of WSR 23-17-138 filed on August 21, 2023.
Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 20-21-057 filed on October 14, 2020.
Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: Periodic status review (PSR) of the western gray squirrel, WAC 220-200-100 and 220-610-010.
Hearing Location(s): On October 27-28, 2023, at 8:00 a.m., hybrid and at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street S.E., Room 172, Olympia, WA 98501. Information on how to register to testify at the public hearing is available at, or contact the fish and wildlife commission (commission) office at 360-902-2267.
Date of Intended Adoption: On or after November 17, 2023.
Submit Written Comments to: Wildlife Program, P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504, email, fax 360-902-2162,, comment by phone 855-925-2801, project code 6483, public comment URL, SEPA email, by October 27, 2023.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Title VI/ADA compliance coordinator, phone 360-902-2349, TTY 1-800-833-6388 or 711, email,, by October 27, 2023.
Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: This rule amendment proposal, if adopted, reclassifies the western gray squirrel from threatened to endangered.
Anticipated effects  include communicating a higher level of conservation concern for the species, their conservation needs, and recovery actions with partners and the public. Additionally, there is also an increased penalty for unlawful taking under RCW 77.15.120.
Finally, the western gray squirrel already has a recovery plan required by WAC 220-610-110.
If the status change is adopted, western gray squirrel will be removed from the list of threatened species in WAC 220-200-100 Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished, and added to the list of endangered species under WAC 220-610-010.
Reasons Supporting Proposal: Important known threats to the western gray squirrel populations in Washington are habitat loss, habitat degradation and fragmentation, small population size and isolation, and disease and highway mortality.
Western gray squirrel habitat loss is linked to timber extraction, wildfire, and land conversion. Climate change is both a current and potential future threat to habitat. Examples include stand-replacement fire, changes in resulting stand composition, and effects on food supply such as production of fungi and seeds.
The southern Puget Trough population has increased since the 2007 recovery plan. However, it is still very limited in size and constrained by the area and fragmentation of its habitat. In addition, the final PSR describes continued habitat loss of >20 percent in the other two isolated core population areas on the east slope of the cascades due to timber extraction and wildfire. A primary threat identified in the original listing of the species was habitat loss, which has only increased since listing.
Because of the species' small total population size and the isolation of the three populations, continuing threats of wildfires and timber harvest, and a likely decline in habitat of >20 percent in both the North Cascades and Klickitat regions, it is recommended that the western gray squirrel be uplisted to endangered in Washington.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 77.04.012, 77.04.013, 77.04.055, 77.12.020, and 77.12.047.
Statute Being Implemented: RCW 77.04.012, 77.04.013, 77.04.055, 77.12.020, and 77.12.047.
Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.
Name of Proponent: Washington department of fish and wildlife, governmental.
Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting and Implementation: Eric Gardner, 1111 Washington Street S.E., Olympia, WA 98501, 360-902-2515; Enforcement: Steve Bear, 1111 Washington Street S.E., Olympia, WA 98501, 360-902-2373.
A school district fiscal impact statement is not required under RCW 28A.305.135.
A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328.
This rule proposal, or portions of the proposal, is exempt from requirements of the Regulatory Fairness Act because the proposal:
Is exempt under RCW 19.85.025(4).
Scope of exemption for rule proposal:
Is fully exempt.
September 13, 2023
Scott Bird
Rules Coordinator
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 23-12-051, filed 6/1/23, effective 7/2/23)
WAC 220-200-100Wildlife classified as protected shall not be hunted or fished.
Protected wildlife are designated into three subcategories: Threatened, sensitive, and other.
(1) Threatened species are any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of their range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats. Protected wildlife designated as threatened include:
Common Name
Scientific Name
((western gray squirrel
Sciurus griseus))
sea otter
Enhydra lutris
green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas
Mazama pocket gopher
Thomomys mazama
Columbian white-tailed deer
Odocoileus virginianus leucurus
(2) Sensitive species are any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that are vulnerable or declining and are likely to become endangered or threatened in a significant portion of their range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats. Protected wildlife designated as sensitive include:
Common Name
Scientific Name
American white pelican
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Gray whale
Eschrichtius robustus
Common Loon
Gavia immer
Larch Mountain salamander
Plethodon larselli
Pygmy whitefish
Prosopium coulteri
Margined sculpin
Cottus marginatus
Olympic mudminnow
Novumbra hubbsi
(3) Other protected wildlife include:
Common Name
Scientific Name
cony or pika
Ochotona princeps
least chipmunk
Tamias minimus
yellow-pine chipmunk
Tamias amoenus
Townsend's chipmunk
Tamias townsendii
red-tailed chipmunk
Tamias ruficaudus
hoary marmot
Marmota caligata
Olympic marmot
Marmota olympus
Cascade golden-mantled ground squirrel
Callospermophilus saturatus
golden-mantled ground squirrel
Callospermophilus lateralis
Washington ground squirrel
Urocitellus washingtoni
red squirrel
Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Douglas squirrel
Tamiasciurus douglasii
northern flying squirrel
Glaucomys sabrinus
Humboldt's flying squirrel
Glaucomys oregonensis
Gulo gulo
painted turtle
Chrysemys picta
California mountain kingsnake
Lampropeltis zonata
All birds not classified as game birds, predatory birds or endangered species, or designated as threatened species or sensitive species; all bats, except when found in or immediately adjacent to a dwelling or other occupied building; mammals of the order Cetacea, including whales, porpoises, and mammals of the order Pinnipedia not otherwise classified as endangered species, or designated as threatened species or sensitive species. This section shall not apply to hair seals and sea lions which are threatening to damage or are damaging commercial fishing gear being utilized in a lawful manner or when said mammals are damaging or threatening to damage commercial fish being lawfully taken with commercial gear.
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 23-06-035, filed 2/23/23, effective 3/26/23)
WAC 220-610-010Wildlife classified as endangered species.
Endangered species include:
Common Name
Scientific Name
Oregon vesper sparrow
Pooecetes gramineus affinis
pygmy rabbit
Brachylagus idahoensis
Pekania pennanti
gray wolf
Canis lupus
grizzly bear
Ursus arctos
killer whale
Orcinus orca
sei whale
Balaenoptera borealis
fin whale
Balaenoptera physalus
blue whale
Balaenoptera musculus
humpback whale
Megaptera novaeangliae
North Pacific right whale
Eubalaena japonica
sperm whale
Physeter macrocephalus
woodland caribou
Rangifer tarandus caribou
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus
sandhill crane
Grus canadensis
snowy plover
Charadrius nivosus
upland sandpiper
Bartramia longicauda
spotted owl
Strix occidentalis
western pond turtle
Clemmys marmorata
leatherback sea turtle
Dermochelys coriacea
mardon skipper
Polites mardon
Oregon silverspot butterfly
Speyeria zerene hippolyta
Oregon spotted frog
Rana pretiosa
northern leopard frog
Rana pipiens
Taylor's checkerspot
Euphydryas editha taylori
Streaked horned lark
Eremophila alpestris strigata
Tufted puffin
Fratercula cirrhata
North American lynx
Lynx canadensis
marbled murrelet
Brachyramphus marmoratus
Loggerhead sea turtle
Caretta caretta
Yellow-billed cuckoo
Coccyzus americanus
Pinto abalone
Haliotis kamtschatkana
Greater sage grouse
Centrocercus urophasianus
Ferruginous hawk
Buteo regalis
Cascade red fox
Vulpes vulpes cascadensis
western gray squirrel
Sciurus griseus