Odocoileus virginianus leucurus
DESCRIPTION The Columbian White-tailed deer is the western most subspecies of white-tailed deer, which occurs throughout North America. It is 25% to 33% smaller (both males and females) than its geographical neighbor subspecies, the Northwestern White-tailed deer. Only the male deer has antlers, which are shed each winter. New antlers grow in early spring and reach full size in late summer. Breeding activity, referred to as the rutting period, begins the first week of November and lasts a month or more. The females have a gestation period of approximately 210 days, with peak fawning occurring in the mid to late June. Does give birth to one or two fawns with an occasional doe producing triplets. Fawns stay with their mother until just prior to the next fawning season when the doe goes off by herself to give birth to the next generation.
DISTRIBUTION The Columbian White-tailed deer are in two separate populations. The lower Columbian River population is found in Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties in Washington State and Clatsop, Columbia, and Multnomah counties in Oregon State. The second population is in Douglas County, Oregon in the Umpqua River Basin (see map).
TAXONOMIC NOTES The Columbia White-tailed deer is a member of the Kingdom (Animals), the Phylum (Chordata), the Class (Mammalia), the Order (Artiodactyla), the Family (Cervidae), the Genus (Odocoileus), the Species (Virginianus), the Subspecies (Leucurus). Taxonomical name: Odocoileus virginianus leucurus
STATUS Early records indicate that Columbian White-tailed deer were once quite numerous over its historic range, from the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the ocean and from Puget Sound in Washington State southward to the Umpqua River Basin in Southern Oregon. This subspecies of White-tailed deer became endangered throughout its range due to habitat modification by human activities, such as farming and logging, as well as commercial and residential developments. The Columbian White-tailed deer was federally listed as endangered in 1968, at which time the estimated population was thought to be less than 1,000 individuals. A recovery plan was published in 1983. Since then the Douglas County population has rebounded and was delisted in July 2003. The Douglas County population is estimated to be over 5,000 individuals, is self-sustaining in reproduction and the herd is managed by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. Their main management tool is limited hunting.
The lower Columbian River population suffered heavy losses due to extensive flooding of its habitat in 1996. With management and co-operation from Mother Nature, it is expected this herd will be reproductively sustainable in the years to come.
REMARKS The Columbian White-tailed Deer live in two little pockets of the Pacific Northwest. The Umpqua River Basin (Douglas County) is the only place in the world these deer can be hunted.