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The King County Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) is the guiding policy document for all land use and development regulations in unincorporated King County, and for regional services throughout the County including transit, sewers, parks, trails and open space. The Comp Plan was updated in 2012, and biodiversity is addressed in its own section as well as throughout the Environment Chapter (Chapter 4).

Critical Areas, Stormwater, and Clearing and Grading Ordinances: The goal of the Critical Areas Ordinance package is to protect the existing functions and values of critical areas and ensure public safety where there are identified hazard areas. The ordinance identifies two general classes of critical areas: (1) environmentally sensitive critical areas, which include rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and wildlife habitat; and (2) public safety critical areas (hazard areas), which include areas at high risk for erosion, landslides, earthquakes, or flooding, as well as coal mine hazard areas. The ordinance applies throughout unincorporated King County. Updates to the ordinance are mandated by the State of Washington’s Growth Management Act.

For a list of species protected in the Comp Plan and CAO as Species of Local Importance, scroll down on this page.

Federal Laws

Endangered Species Act

The Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 and prohibits the importation, exportation, taking, and commercialization in interstate or foreign commerce of fish and wildlife, and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered species. The Act also implements the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Here is a digest of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543). And here is the entire ESA in PDF format.

Other Federal Laws

In addition to the ESA, many Federal Laws are in place that protect wildlife. This fact is often overlooked when people are considering County wildlife regulations. Federal Laws are an additional protection for many of our migratory birds, for example.

This external web site presents a summary of some federal wildlife regulations. Here is an excerpt:

  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), except as allowed by implementing regulations, makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, kill, capture, possess, buy, sell, purchase, or barter any migratory bird, including the feathers or other parts, nests, eggs, or migratory bird products.
  • Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668C) makes it illegal to import, export, or take bald or golden eagles, or to sell, purchase, or barter their parts, or products made from them, including their nests or eggs.
  • makes it illegal to import, export, or take bald or golden eagles, or to sell, purchase, or barter their parts, or products made from them, including their nests or eggs.
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1361-1407) establishes a moratorium on the taking and importation of marine mammals, including parts and products, and defines Federal responsibility for conservation of marine mammals, with management authority vested in the Department of the Interior for the sea otter, walrus, polar bear, dugong, and manatee.
  • Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42; 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378) provides authority to the Secretary of the Interior to designate injurious wildlife and ensure the humane treatment of wildlife shipped to the United States. Further, it prohibits the importation, exportation, transportation, sale, or purchase of fish and wildlife taken or possessed in violation of State, Federal, Indian tribal, and foreign laws. Also, the act provides an important tool in the effort to gain control of smuggling and trade in illegally taken fish and wildlife.
  • Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 (16 U.S.C. 4901) promotes the conservation of exotic birds by (1) encouraging wild bird conservation and management programs in countries of origin; (2) ensuring that all trade in such species involving the United States is biologically sustainable and to the benefit of the species; and (3) limiting or prohibiting imports of exotic birds when necessary to ensure that exotic wild populations are not harmed by removal for the trade.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) web site contains a lot of relevant information:

Enforcement

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University took a look at Trends in prosecution in wildlife laws. They found that "Enforcement of the federal laws designed to protect migratory birds, endangered species, marine mammals and other kinds of wild life has slumped during the Bush Administration, according to authoritative Justice Department data." Additionally, "The decline was documented in an analysis of a special new data base comparing the number of individuals and corporations charged with violating such laws during the first term of President Clinton, the second Clinton term and the Bush years. The data were obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)."

Washington State Laws

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Title 77: Fish and Wildlife is the primary source of fish and wildlife laws specific to Washington State. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Enforcement Program is primarily responsible for enforcing the Fish and Wildlife Code.

List of Species Protected in the King County Comprehensive Plan and CAO

This list is current as of June 1, 2009, and represents species protected in King County's Comprehensive Plan via the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). Asterisks (*) indicate which species have specified development standards in the CAO. Federal and State status codes are defined at the bottom of the list. These are grouped by animal type and then alphabetized by common name.

COMMON NAME

 

SCIENTIFIC NAME

 

Animal Type

 

Federal STATUS

 

State STATUS

 

notes on presence in King County

 

Larch Mountain Salamander

 

Plethodon larselli

 

Amphibian

 

FCo

 

SS

 

in King County

 

Northern Red-legged frog

 

Rana aurora

 

Amphibian

 

none

 

none

 

Oregon Spotted Frog

 

Rana pretiosa

 

Amphibian

 

FC

 

SE

 

historic presence; no current populations known

 

Van Dyke's Salamander

 

Plethodon vandykei

 

Amphibian

 

FCo

 

SC

 

Eastern King County near Snoqualmie Pass

 

Western Toad

 

Bufo boreas

 

Amphibian

 

FCo

 

SC

 

Present and breeding in King County

 

Beller's Ground Beetle

 

Agonum belleri

 

Beetle

 

FCo

 

SC

 

In WA, only known in King County

 

Bog Idol Leaf Beetle (formerly known as Long-horned Leaf Beetle)

 

Donacia idola

 

Beetle

 

none

 

SC

 

only known in Snohomish County in WA; is new PHS list wrong? Has it as only King county

 

Hatch's Click Beetle

 

Eanus hatchii

 

Beetle

 

FCo

 

SC

 

Endemic: only known in King County (historically also SnoCo, but no longer)

 

American bittern

 

Botaurus lentiginosus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

American three-toed woodpecker

 

Picoides tridactylus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Rare in King County with only three BBA records near Cascade crest, including "confirmed" breeding pair at Pyramid Creek. Sparse occurrence does not support generous range on west side of crest mapped by Washington Gap report (Smith et al. 1997).

 

American White Pelican

 

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

 

Bird

 

none

 

SE

 

Eastern WA; rare in K.C.; 5+ records

 

Bald Eagle*

 

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

 

Bird

 

FCo

 

SS

 

nesting in King County

 

Band-tailed pigeon

 

Columba fasciata

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Barrow’s Goldeneye

 

Bucephala islandica

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Belted kingfisher

 

Ceryle alcyon

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Black scoter

 

Melanitta nigra

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Black-Backed Woodpecker

 

Picoides arcticus

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

confirmed breeding in eastern King County

 

Blue-winged teal

 

Anas discors

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Brandt's Cormorant

 

Phalacrocorax penicillatus

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

winters in King County waters

 

Brant

 

Branta bernicla

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Brown Pelican

 

Pelecanus occidentalis

 

Bird

 

FE

 

SE

 

outer coast; rare in K.C.; 5+ records

 

Burrowing Owl

 

Athene cunicularia

 

Bird

 

FCo

 

SC

 

E WA; not in King County (fewer than 5 records)

 

Cassin’s Finch

 

Carpodacus cassinii

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

IUCN list: Near threatened

 

Cassin's Auklet

 

Ptychoramphus aleuticus

 

Bird

 

FCo

 

SC

 

outer coast; not King County; fewer than 5 records in K.C.

 

Cinnamon teal

 

Anas cyanoptera

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Common Goldeneye

 

Bucephala clangula

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Common Loon

 

Gavia immer

 

Bird

 

none

 

SS

 

breeding in King County

 

Common Murre

 

Uria aalge

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

winters in King County waters

 

Flammulated Owl

 

Otus flammeolus

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

E WA; not in King County; fewer than 5 records in K.C.

 

Golden Eagle

 

Aquila chrysaetos

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

confirmed breeding in eastern King County

 

Hairy Woodpecker

 

Picoides villosus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Harlequin duck

 

Histrionicus histrionicus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Hooded merganser

 

Lophodytes cucullatus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Lewis' Woodpecker

 

Melanerpes lewis

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

E WA; not supposed to be in King County; record from 1900s post-logging on Vashon

 

Marbled Murrelet*

 

Brachyramphus marmoratus

 

Bird

 

FT

 

ST

 

probable nesters in King County

 

Merlin

 

Falco columbarius

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

winters in and migrates through King County; no breeding

 

Mountain chickadee

 

Poecile gambeli

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Northern Goshawk*

 

Accipiter gentilis

 

Bird

 

FCo

 

SC

 

few breeding in King County

 

Olive-sided Flycatcher

 

Contopus cooperi

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

IUCN list: Near threatened

 

Oregon Vesper Sparrow

 

Pooecetes gramineus affinis

 

Bird

 

FCo

 

SC

 

not in King County; rare in K.C.; 5+ records

 

Peregrine Falcon*

 

Falco peregrinus

 

Bird

 

FCo

 

SS

 

in King County

 

Pileated Woodpecker

 

Dryocopus pileatus

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

confirmed breeding in King County

 

Purple Finch

 

Carpodacus purpureus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Purple Martin

 

Progne subis

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

confirmed breeding in King County

 

Ruffed grouse

 

Bonasa umbellus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Fairly common in hardwood and mixed woodlands at low to middle elevations throughout forested parts of four-county area, especially along brushy riparian corridors.

 

Sandhill Crane

 

Grus canadensis

 

Bird

 

none

 

SE

 

Eastern WA breeder; some migrate through K.C.

 

Snowy Plover

 

Charadrius alexandrinus

 

Bird

 

FT

 

SE

 

SW coast of WA; not their habitat or range; fewer than 5 records in K.C.

 

Sooty grouse

 

Dendragapus fuliginosus

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Spotted Owl*

 

Strix occidentalis

 

Bird

 

FT

 

SE

 

confirmed breeding

 

Streaked Horned Lark

 

Eremophila alpestris strigata

 

Bird

 

FC

 

SE

 

extremely unlikely; if in county, extreme NE edge

 

Surf scoter

 

Melanitta perspicillata

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Upland Sandpiper

 

Bartramia longicauda

 

Bird

 

none

 

SE

 

Eastern WA, if in WA at all; fewer than 5 records in K.C.

 

Vaux's Swift*

 

Chaetura vauxi

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

confirmed breeding in King County

 

Western Grebe

 

Aechmophorus occidentalis

 

Bird

 

none

 

SC

 

winters in and migrates through King County; no breeding

 

Western Meadowlark

 

Sturnella neglecta

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

White-winged scoter

 

Melanitta fusca

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Wood duck

 

Aix sponsa

 

Bird

 

none

 

none

 

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

 

Coccyzus americanus

 

Bird

 

FC

 

SC

 

historic presence; no current populations known in WA

 

Johnson's Hairstreak

 

Mitoura johnsoni

 

Butterfly/Moth

 

none

 

SC

 

have been recorded in King County in suitable habitat: lowland coniferous forests that contain dwarf mistletoes of the genus Arceuthobium.

 

Valley Silverspot

 

Speyeria zerene bremnerii

 

Butterfly/Moth

 

FCo

 

SC

 

may be in King Co.

 

Black Rockfish

 

Sebastes melanops

 

Fish

 

none

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

Bocaccio Rockfish

 

Sebastes paucispinis

 

Fish

 

FE

 

SC

 

potentially in King County waters

 

Brown Rockfish

 

Sebastes auriculatus

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

Bull Trout

 

Salvelinus confluentus

 

Fish

 

FT

 

SC

 

in King County

 

Canary Rockfish

 

Sebastes pinniger

 

Fish

 

FT

 

SC

 

potentially in King County waters

 

Chinook Salmon (Puget Sound)

 

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

 

Fish

 

FT

 

SC

 

in King County

 

chum salmon

 

Oncorhynchus keta

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

coastal resident/searun cutthroat

 

Oncorhynchus clarki clarki

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

coho/silver salmon

 

Oncorhynchus kisutch

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Copper Rockfish

 

Sebastes caurinus

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

Dolly Varden

 

Salvelinus malma

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

English sole

 

Parophrys vetulus

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Green sturgeon

 

Acipenser Medirostris

 

fish

 

none

 

Monitor

 

Greenstriped Rockfish

 

Sebastes elongatus

 

Fish

 

none

 

SC

 

potentially in King County waters

 

kokanee salmon

 

Onchorhynchus nerka

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

lingcod

 

Ophiodon elongatus

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

longfin smelt

 

Spirinchus thaleichthys

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Olympic Mudminnow

 

Novumbra hubbsi

 

Fish

 

none

 

SS

 

possibly in King County; tho' records could have been from planted fish

 

Pacific Cod

 

Gadus macrocephalus

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

King County waters

 

Pacific Hake

 

Merluccius productus

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

King County waters

 

Pacific Herring

 

Clupea pallasi

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

spawning grounds in Quartermaster Harbor, Vashon-Maury Island

 

Pacific sand lance

 

Ammodytes hexapterus

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

pink salmon

 

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Pygmy Whitefish

 

Prosopium coulteri

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SS

 

in King County

 

Quillback Rockfish

 

Sebastes maliger

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

rainbow trout

 

Oncorhynchus mykiss

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Redstripe Rockfish

 

Sebastes proriger

 

Fish

 

none

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

River Lamprey

 

Lampetra ayresi

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

in King County

 

rock sole

 

Pleuronectes bilineatus

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

sockeye/red salmon

 

Onchorhynchus nerka

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Steelhead (Puget Sound)

 

Oncorhynchus mykiss

 

Fish

 

FT

 

none

 

in King County watercourses

 

surfsmelt

 

Hypomesus pretiosus

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Walleye Pollock (So. Puget Sound)

 

Theragra chalcogramma

 

Fish

 

FCo

 

SC

 

possible in King County waters

 

White sturgeon

 

Acipenser transmontanus

 

fish

 

none

 

none

 

Yelloweye Rockfish

 

Sebastes ruberrimus

 

Fish

 

FT

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

Yellowtail Rockfish

 

Sebastes flavidus

 

Fish

 

none

 

SC

 

in King County waters

 

Black Right Whale

 

Balaena glacialis

 

Mammal

 

FE

 

SE

 

coastal - offshore; visitor to King County waters

 

Columbian black-tailed deer

 

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

Douglas Squirrel

 

Tamiasciurus douglasii

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

elk in their historic range

 

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

Fin Whale

 

Balaenoptera physalus

 

Mammal

 

FE

 

SE

 

coastal - offshore; visitor to King County waters

 

Fisher

 

Martes pennanti

 

Mammal

 

FC

 

SE

 

extirpated; historically present

 

Gray Whale

 

Eschrichtius robustus

 

Mammal

 

none

 

SS

 

coastal - offshore; visitor to King County waters

 

Gray Wolf

 

Canis lupus

 

Mammal

 

FE

 

SE

 

possible; former range in Cascades of King County

 

Grizzly Bear

 

Ursus arctos

 

Mammal

 

FT

 

SE

 

possible, but highly unlikely in King County

 

Humpback Whale

 

Megaptera novaeangliae

 

Mammal

 

FE

 

SE

 

coastal - offshore; visitor to King County waters

 

Killer Whale

 

Orcinus orca

 

Mammal

 

FE

 

SE

 

potentially the entire Sound; in K.C. waters

 

Lynx

 

Lynx canadensis

 

Mammal

 

FT

 

ST

 

extremely unlikely, but theoretically possible in extreme NE corner of county

 

Marten

 

Martes americana

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

mink

 

Mustela vison

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

mountain goat

 

Oreamnos americanus

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

Pacific Harbor Porpoise

 

Phocoena phocoena

 

Mammal

 

none

 

SC

 

range includes King County waters

 

Sea Otter

 

Enhydra lutris

 

Mammal

 

FCo

 

SE

 

outer coast; visitor to King County

 

Steller Sea Lion

 

Eumetopias jubatus

 

Mammal

 

FT

 

ST

 

outer coast; visitor to King County

 

Townsend Chipmunk

 

Tamias townsendii

 

Mammal

 

none

 

none

 

Townsend's Big-Eared Bat*

 

Corynorhinus townsendii

 

Mammal

 

FCo

 

SC

 

presumed in King County

 

Wolverine

 

Gulo gulo

 

Mammal

 

FCo

 

SC

 

possible in King County

 

Olympia Oyster

 

OSTREA conchaphila

 

Mollusk

 

none

 

SC

 

not present currently or historically in King County waters; PHS data indicates otherwise

 

Oregon floater

 

Anodonta oregonensis

 

Mollusk

 

none

 

Monitor

 

 

Western pearlshell mussel

 

Margaritifera falcata

 

Mollusk

 

none

 

Monitor

 

Western ridged mussel

 

Gonidea angulata

 

Mollusk

 

none

 

Monitor

 

Alligator lizard

 

Elgaria coerulea

 

Reptile

 

none

 

none

 

western fence lizard

 

Sceloporus occidentalis

 

Reptile

 

none

 

none

 

Western Pond Turtle

 

Actinemys marmorata

 

Reptile

 

FCo

 

SE

 

there are just a few historic records in KC

 

Dungeness crab

 

Metacarcinus magister

 

Shellfish

 

none

 

none

 

Geoduck clam

 

Panopea generosa

 

Shellfish

 

none

 

none

 

Pacific oyster

 

Crassostrea gigas

 

Shellfish

 

none

 

none

 

Pandalid shrimp

 

Pandalus species, and Pandalopsis dispar. Spot (Prawn)
Pandalus platyceros
Sidestripe
Pandalopsis dispar
Dock (Coonstripe)
Pandalus danae
Humpback (Coonstripe)
Pandalus hypsinotus
Humpy (Coonstripe)
Pandalus goniurus
Northern (Rough) Pink
Pandalus eous
Ocean (Smooth) Pink
Pandalus jordani

 

Shellfish

 

none

 

none

 

Red Urchin

 

Strongylocentrotus franciscanus

 

Shellfish

 

none

 

none

 

 

Status Codes:

  • FE: Federal Endangered
  • FT: Federal Threatened
  • FC: Federal Candidate
  • FCo: Federal Species of Concern
  • SE: State Endangered, defined in WAC 232-12-297, Section 2.4, to include "any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that is seriously threatened with extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the state."
  • ST: State Threatened, defined in WAC 232-12-297, Section 2.5, to include "any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of its range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats."
  • SS: State Sensitive, defined in WAC 232-12-297, Section 2.6, to include "any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that is vulnerable or declining and is likely to become endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats."
  • SC: State Candidate, defined in WDFW Policy M-6001 to include fish and wildlife species that the Department will review for possible listing as State Endangered, Threatened, or Sensitive. A species will be considered for designation as a State Candidate if sufficient evidence suggests that its status may meet the listing criteria defined for State Endangered, Threatened, or Sensitive.
  • SM: State Monitor Species.

    1. State Monitor Species are those that require management, survey, or data emphasis for one or more of the following reasons:

    a. They were classified as endangered, threatened, or sensitive within the previous five years.
    b. They require habitat that is of limited availability during some portion of their life cycle.
    c. They are indicators of environmental quality.
    d. There are unresolved taxonomic questions that may affect their candidacy for listing as endangered, threatened, or sensitive species.

    2. State Monitor Species will be managed by the Department, as needed, to prevent them from becoming endangered, threatened, or sensitive.

    3. Species already classified in a category that provides adequate management emphasis, survey work, and data maintenance (e.g., game animals, game birds, furbearers, etc.) will not be designated as State Monitor Species.