Hailed as a conservation success story by wildlife officials, the Columbian white-tailed deer has been downlisted to threatened after being federally classified as endangered for nearly 40 years.Officials will announce the deer’s new status Thursday at a ceremony in Ridgefield.The Columbian are the only variety of white-tailed deer west of the Cascade mountain range. The species was first listed as endangered in the mid-1960s, with only 450 remaining in Washington and Oregon. Today, wildlife officials estimate there are more than 900 of the deer in three locations in Washington and Oregon.The downlisting “shows these lands have a critical role in wildlife recovery,” said Christopher Lapp, manager of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex.To be clear, the Columbian white-tails are not off the endangered species list, but reclassifying the species as threatened gives landowners, states and tribes more flexibility in how to manage and move the deer populations. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says such flexibility can lead to greater populations and distribution through their natural range.Roughly 125 of the deer live at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, but they don’t always stay within its boundaries. Lapp said 2015 population estimates say 12 of the deer live on nearby private land, and between 15 and 20 of them live on Sauvie Island.The Ridgefield refuge was originally created to manage for dusky Canada geese, but it’s also proved to be very suitable habitat for the deer, Lapp said.