Western gray squirrels are now endangered in Washington state:

Climate change and land development have added another animal population List of endangered species in Washington State. State Fish and Wildlife Commission said Friday That threat recovery plan for more than a decade A species of western gray squirrel has failed and that the population is now “seriously threatened with extinction”.

The status of squirrels is reclassified after the species information is revised. In October, the Department of Fish and Wildlife warned that the species would soon face extinction “without cooperative management or threat removal,” Taylor Cotten, manager of the department's conservation assessment division, said at Friday's commission meeting.

“We are recommending the reclassification of endangered wildlife as ‘seriously threatened with extinction over all or a significant portion of its range within the state,'” he said.

The western gray squirrel has been listed as a threatened species since 1993. The state implemented a recovery plan in 2007 to try to rebuild the population. Even so, the squirrels' primary habitat in the Cascades has declined by more than 20% since they were deemed endangered, Cotten said, and today there are only three isolated populations of the animals statewide, “squirrel habitats.” It seems “low and fragmented”.

It was also proposed to place them on the federal endangered species list in 2001, but Cotten said the government decided such a designation was “not warranted” in 2004. To date, Cotten said, conservation efforts have been underway for more than a decade. – The old recovery plan “was insufficient”.

The reason for the sharp decline? At least in part, climate change.

“The frequency and severity of wildfires is increasing with climate change,” Cotten said, adding that the 35- to 45-year length of crop rotation in the South Cascades also “limits” suitable structures for animals.

In 2022, there were more 660 forest fires in Washington which burned more than 55,600 acres across the jurisdiction of the state Department of Natural Resources. While those numbers are well below the 10-year average, state officials said in a year-end report that it was related to a “very wet spring” and “conditions turned hot and dry” in July. An “unstable fire hazard” has developed. Several fires were started by lightning.

In essence, it was a year of extremes – a situation that is expected to worsen as rising global temperatures lead to more severe weather events and conditions ranging from drought to heavy rainfall.

“Washington's 2022 fire season began with the wettest April through June on record and ended with the driest July through October,” the report said. “…Overall, critical fire weather events were primarily caused by hot and unstable conditions in the Cascades associated with the state's Persistent Ridge.”

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife's website, Western gray squirrels They are also susceptible to diseases that “may increase in high temperature conditions.”

And this species is only the last to feel the effects of climate change. A report published last year by the World Wide Fund for Nature showed that of the nearly 32,000 animal populations worldwide An average decline of 69% since 1970. This sharp decline, the report says, is a “code red for the planet (and humanity).”

“The message is clear and the lights are flashing red,” says WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini in the report. “Our most comprehensive report yet on the state of global vertebrate wildlife populations presents dire numbers: a shocking two-thirds decline in the global Living Planet Index in less than 50 years.”