Oregon’s red tree vole has been removed as a candidate for the threatened species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The arboreal rodent subsists almost entirely off of conifer needles, specifically Doulas fir and western hemlock, and can be found in Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, Yamhill, Polk, Lincoln, Benton, and Lane counties. It was first considered for the threatened species list in 2008, and was made a candidate in 2011. However, every year since it was precluded in favor of “higher priority actions,” until now.
While the habitat of the red tree vole, which spends most of its life in the treetops, is threatened by logging and wildfires, the USFWS believes it is more than capable of bouncing back. In their annual candidate notice review, they maintain that the red tree vole population has remained relatively steady in spite of the stressors.
Furthermore, they anticipate an expansion of the species into forestland between Tillamook State Forest and Kilchis River, as it will soon reach maturation, providing the voles with the dense canopies they need to survive. The USFWS thus found that “listing the north Oregon coast DPS (Distinct Population Segment) of the red tree vole as an endangered species or threatened species is not warranted.”
Noah Greenwald, director of the Center for Biological Diversity, disagrees.
“Scientists that have been doing decades of research on this species found that it was in trouble in the north coast and that that population needed protection,” he said. “Fish and Wildlife Service previously determined that it needed protection and now they have just reversed course.”
By Brandon Urey