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West Cascades Wildlife

Black bears and cougars still roam in the West Cascades ecoregion although grizzlies and wolves are no longer found. Mammals that are receiving particular conservation efforts include the fisher, the wolverine, and the western gray squirrel (not to be confused with its invasive cousin, the eastern gray squirrel).

Other vertebrates of concern include the Cascades torrent salamander, bull trout, Chinook salmon, spotted owl, and marbled murrelet.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has identified four priority wildlife habitats in the West Cascades. Lowland conifer-hardwood forests, particularly remnants of old-growth forest, are critical for dependent species, such as the spotted owl, the fisher, and a slug known as the blue-gray taildropper. In addition, old-growth forest supplies significant ecosystem services.

Garry oak woodlands and dry Douglas-fir forests are another priority. These drier site forests supply habitat to pileated woodpeckers and Johnson’s hairstreak butterflies.

Herbaceous balds, another priority habitat, are those south- to west-facing hillsides covered in bunchgrass. These host to western bluebirds and Mardon skipper butterflies.

Riparian wetlands, an additional priority habitat, exist in mosaics with lowland conifer-hardwood forests. They are inhabited by great blue herons, western pond turtles, and western toads.

Animal Group

Approx. number of species
Reptiles and amphibians
Dragonflies and damselflies
Other insects
Yet to be determined
Other invertebrates
Yet to be determined


For details of this ecoregion within Washington, click a subheading in the left column.

View the more general description of this ecoregion in North America

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