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HCP - Species of Concern in Thurston County

The Four ESA-listed Species

These four species found Thurston County are now on the federal Endangered Species Act list.

The checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark are found primarily on public lands, so their listing will not have a significant effect on Thurston County residents. The Oregon spotted frog is found primarily in wetlands, so the impact of its listing will likely be limited to residents seeking permits to build or develop wetlands.

Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly

Taylors Checkerspot ButterflyTaylor's checkerspot is a native butterfly that was once widespread throughout prairies in association with golden paintbrush, a federally listed threatened plant species. It is one of the darkest subspecies of the Edith checkerspot butterfly and only produces one brood per year. The butterfly is now listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and is also a state listed endangered species. In south Puget Sound, this species survives at only two locations: one location is where the butterfly naturally occurs, and the other location is a former site where it has been reintroduced. Both lie within the south Puget Sound prairie landscape.

Click here for more information on Taylor’s checkerspot from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Streaked horned lark

Streaked Horned LarkThe Streaked horned lark is a small, long-winged bird with distinctive black “horns,” which are actually feather tufts. A native bird whose historical range once stretched from British Columbia to southern Oregon, the Streaked horned lark is currently designated as threatened by the USFWS.  The total population of the lark is likely less than one thousand, with roughly 300 living in Washington.

Click here for more information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Click here for more information from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.


Mazama pocket gopher

Mazama Pocket GopherThe Mazama pocket gopher is a native mammal that is found in prairie habitat. The pocket gopher stays mostly underground, where it combs for plant roots with long, sharp claws. The tunnels it burrows help aerate soil, and while its nests, its food stores and droppings add nutrients to the soil to help aid plant growth. In the south Puget Sound area, two of nine subpopulations of Mazama pocket gopher are believed to have become extinct since the 1940s. Four subspecies found of the Mazama pocket gopher found in Thurston and Pierce Counties are now federal candidates for listing. The Mazama pocket gopher is designated as threatened by the state.

In prairie ecosystems, pocket gopher activity is important in maintaining plant species richness and diversity.  Its habitat has been reduced due to residential and commercial development, invasion of weedy plants and trampling and crushing of burrows due to heavy equipment use.

For more information on the Mazama pocket gopher, visit the following websites:

Oregon spotted frog

Oregon Spotted FrogThe Oregon spotted frog is named for the black dots that cover its head, back, sides, and legs.  The spots grow and change color as the frog ages. The almost entirely aquatic amphibian lives in shallow waters among the wetlands in Canada, Washington and Oregon, though its habitat has shrunk to just a fraction of its historic range due to human activity.

Oregon spotted frogs are integral to the food web of their wetland habitats. Tadpoles keep waterways clean by feeding on plant tissue, bacteria, algae, detritus, and carrion. Adults eat insects that can transmit diseases to livestock, and are a resource to predators like Sandhill cranes, herons, snakes and river otters.

Click here for information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service   


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