Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
excluding legal holidays

Telephone (360) 696-6211
Fax (360) 906-6776
TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
October 2007

October 1, 2007

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Bald Eagle Site Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman generated a Bald Eagle Site Management Plan for a communal roost site in the Salmon Creek watershed of Clark County. This location has been the site of mitigation efforts dating back to 1993. Apparently having decided that the roost site was no longer of value to eagles or of interest to WDFW, developers at the site are proposing a 22-lot sub-division and removal of essentially all vegetation on the 4.26-acre site. This 4.26-acre area served as the core mitigation area in prior plans. Negotiations regarding development of this site will be ongoing.

GAME DIVISION

Elk Herd composition flights: Biologists and Officers worked cooperatively to conduct the District 10 elk herd flights in 4 GMU's this week. Over 1000 elk were observed in Units 506, 520, 530, and 550. Of note was the general lack of mature bulls in many of the units with 3-4 point bulls making up the majority of the males seen. One additional unit remains to complete the fall flight effort and will be flown next week.

October 8, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Lake Wetland Enhancement: Ducks unlimited in partnership with WDFW and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have completed a wetland enhancement at the southern end of the Shillapoo Lakebed. Due to complications with an adjacent petroleum pipeline, this project sat partially completed for some time. A levee has been constructed, which will allow WDFW to manage hydrology on the 120-acre site to foster the reestablishment of native wetland plant communities. The impoundment will be gradually filled in the fall and winter months and then slowly drained each year during the summer. We have had good success in other areas using this approach to control reed canary grass and replace the invasive plant with beneficial native plants.

Hazardous Materials Dumped at Vancouver Lake: Both Vancouver Fire and the Washington Department of Ecology spill response team responded to a report of a pile of over 30 paint and solvent cans dumped in a parking area on the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. Fortunately the cleanup crews determined that none of the containers had been leaking and they were promptly removed for disposal. We appreciate the quick response of both the fire and ecology crews.

USFWS cameras took imagesof wildlife on Fisher Island including a black-tailed deer (top) and Columbia white-tailed deer (below).
USFWS cameras took imagesof wildlife on Fisher Island including a black-tailed deer (top) and Columbia white-tailed deer (below).
USFWS cameras took images of wildlife on Fisher Island including a black-tailed deer (top) and Columbia white-tailed deer (below).

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbian White Tailed Deer Survey: District 10 employees serviced the USFWS cameras on Fisher Island. One camera was relocated and the other yielded 3 images, including 1 Columbia White Tailed Deer and 1 Black Tailed Deer. Also observed in the Fisher Island vicinity was a Peregrine falcon perching on an Osprey nest.

Wind Power: Biologist Anderson met with Jim Watson, Research Division, and Bill Weiler, Habitat Division, to discuss strategy for commenting on several wind power projects in Klickitat County. At issue is the rapid growth of the industry in Klickitat County and the concern for wildlife (primarily raptors) associated with habitats being developed. Currently nine projects are either permitted or planned, encompassing a huge area of remaining sagebrush and grassland steppe remaining in Klickitat County. Jim Watson's research on breeding raptor movements has been very helpful in WDFW's response to turbine placement in association with nest sites. Another issue currently not being addressed by the wind power industry is the accumulative effects of these projects on local and regional raptor populations. Our hope is to increase our knowledge of raptor movements adjacent to and within wind power projects in order to better determine where wind farms should be placed and what their true impacts are on raptor populations.

GAME DIVISION

Elk Herd Composition Flights: District 10 staff completed its fall surveys with a final effort in the 524 Margaret GMU. Approximately 500 elk were observed in this unit during a 2.6-hour flight. Noteworthy were the high numbers of mature bulls that were present in this limited-entry hunting unit. Data will be summarized.

A happy and successful young pheasant hunter.
A happy and successful young pheasant hunter.

Pheasant Seasons: Both Volunteers and WDFW staff helped get the Western Washington Pheasant seasons off to a good start. The Vancouver Wildlife League and the local Pheasants Forever chapter sponsored separated events for youth on September 22nd and 23rd. Two separate sites were set up this year in response to the previous joint events at one location becoming too crowded. About 40 young hunters took part in the initial hunt on Saturday. Mentors and trained hunting dogs were provided to each youth hunter to get them off to a good start. In some cases the volunteers provided guns and ammunition to those who needed them. A happy and successful young hunter is pictured in the photo at right.

The popular five day senior hunt took place on the 24th through the 28th. These hunters were very successful after a mid week release of birds. We did receive one complaint because no birds were released prior to the opening day of the senior hunt. With the birds for the youth hunt now being distributed over a larger area, it was harder for the seniors to find birds on Monday.

The general season opened on September 30th and continues through November 30th. WDFW conducts car counts three times during the season to assess the level of use at each of the release sites. Wildlife Area Manager Calkins conducted the count at the Woodland Bottoms site where 16 cars were present for the opener. Volunteers made the count on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area where a total of 94 cars were present (51 at the South Unit and 43 at Vancouver Lake). Birds will continue to be released by volunteers twice a week throughout the season until the week of Thanksgiving.

October 15, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cedar Creek Wildlife Area:
Unlawful Posting:
The Vancouver Regional Office received a complaint from a user of the Cedar Creek Wildlife Area in Clark County that someone had posted “no trespassing” signs at the entrance to the site. The next day, Wildlife Area Manager Calkins went to the site and found one “no trespassing” sign at the entrance, which he removed. It was replaced with a printed copy of WDFW's unlawful posting rule. Unlawful posting is a misdemeanor crime. A feel free to hunt sign was also placed. We will continue to monitor the site through the hunting season for any similar issues.

WDFW manager met with 150 hunters and documented harvested deer, among them this 4-point deer.
WDFW manager met with 150 hunters and documented harvested deer, among them this 4-point deer.

Klickitat Wildlife Area: Hunters arrived to scout for deer and set up camps. Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven met with about 150 hunters over the weekend and documented four harvested deer (two 4-points, one 3-point, and one adult doe). Officer Bolton checked compliance in response to complaints of illegal and unethical hunting practices occurring in the Sheep Canyon area as well as driving in areas posted by WDFW as “Off Road Vehicles Prohibited”.

The Department of Natural Resources fire crew chipped the limbs piled in the Canyon Creek Loop Campground. The campground looks very tidy now and sight distance is improved. This gives us better safety conditions and reduced fire hazard there. Campers returning to KWA from last year are sure to notice the difference!

DIVERSITY DIVISION

BirdFest: Biologists Anderson and Holman and Fish and Wildlife Technician Ridenour hosted a WDFW booth at the 2007 BirdFest in Ridgefield and received great feedback regarding the display. The festival was well attended and people enjoyed the photos and diversity information.

GAME DIVISION

NGO Meetings / Hunter Access: Biologist Holman gave an annual presentation to approximately 25 members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club. The presentation featured thanks for the club's on-going involvement in providing hunting access to Weyerhaeuser property (this year with help from an ALEA grant), a summary of pre-season deer surveys conducted in the Yacolt Burn (which the club helped with), a discussion of the public involvement process for the update to the Game Management Plan, a question and answer session, etc.

The Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club has been important in Clark County for many years. The group assures access to an important and large portion of the Weyerhaeuser's St. Helens Tree Farm. The area is known to the locals as "The Burn", referencing the 1902 fire that burned many thousands of acres. The Sportsman's Club opens and closes the access gate daily during the modern firearm and muzzleloader deer and elk seasons, allowing access for hundreds of hunters. The group also assists Weyerhaeuser with security patrols, posts informational material, and helps out with deer surveys as well. This year's Club President Randy Lawffer deserves special credit and thanks for his efforts and those of the entire Club to maintain public access to private lands for hunting.

Mudflow Hunts: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and Fish and Wildlife Technician Ridenour conducted follow-up surveys for the first three completed special permit Mudflow hunts. A total of 17 hunters responded out of 18 special permit holders. Six special permit holders participated in each hunt. The first senior hunt Mudflow H (any elk tag with anterless restriction) resulted in no elk harvested. The next two hunts, Mudflow D and E (any elk tag), were Hunters with Disabilities Only special permit holders. Three out of 5 reporting Mudflow D hunters successfully harvested a bull elk with either 5 or 6 points. One hunter did not respond. Four Mudflow E hunters harvested one spike, one 4 point, and two 5 point bull elk. Two Mudflow E special permit holders did not harvest any elk.

All special permit holders commented on their hunting experience along with suggestions for subsequent hunts. The comments and suggestions were as follows:

  • Reduction of the number of vehicles
  • Reduction of number of people participating in mudflow hunts
  • Vehicle access is discouraging elk use
  • Allow more vehicle access over larger area on mudflow
  • Build a bridge over the Toutle River
  • Nonhunting recreational horseback users were not wearing hunter orange
  • Restrict general public access in hunt areas
  • People were accessing hunt area before daylight (unethical, disturbing elk off hunt area).

Land Access Program: Four to eleven volunteers per day assisted with implementing the Land Access Program for additional motorized access on the Weyerhaeuser Company St Helens Tree Farm for the elk special permit muzzleloader hunters from October 6th through October 12th. 80% of the Margaret GMU and 100% of the Toutle GMU were made available for motorized access. Overall the effort went very well and we would like to thank the volunteers for their time and effort in implementing this program. Several hunters have called in thanking WDFW, Weyerhaeuser, and the volunteers for the additional access opportunity and the positive contribution this made to their hunts. However, unfortunately midweek vandalism occurred on Weyerhaeuser equipment and gates. Events such as this jeopardize the opportunity for hunters to access additional lands as well as the success of this program.

October 22, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven continued to meet with 40 plus hunters over the weekend and among these hunters documented 14 harvested deer. The breakdown: one 7x6 buck, one 4x4 buck, one 4x3 buck, five 3x3 bucks, one 3+-point buck with atypical antlers (odd palm-shaped deformity at the base of one antler), one 2x2 with eye guards, one small doe (probably a yearling), and three unidentified hides

Western Gray Squirrels: Manager VanLeuven, District Biologist Anderson, and Lindsey Cornelius, with the Columbia Land Trust, surveyed for western gray squirrels along the Klickitat River. They noted two live squirrel observations and 13 nests. In addition, manager VanLeuven assisted with the release of 80 pheasants at the Hatchery Unit property, along Hill Rd. Volunteer Gordon Johnson helped out with the effort.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtles: All juvenile western pond turtles have been recovered from nests in Klickitat County as part of the "head start" program. A total of 64 hatchlings were recovered from 22 nests, of which 58 are at the Oregon Zoo and the last 6 at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

GAME DIVISION

Yacolt Burn Check Station: Biologist Holman and Volunteer Lisa Renan staffed a check station near Yacolt. A total of 596 hunter checks were made with 6 bucks being checked. Overall deer harvest for opening weekend appears to be down due to very warm conditions on the weekend. The Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club again deserves credit for maintaining hunting access to this important area of Weyerhaeuser ownership.

Deer Season: Biologist Anderson reports deer hunting pressure on the opening weekend to be normal throughout the Columbia River Gorge units. As the week progressed with heavy rains, pressure dropped and only a few hunters were observed in West Klickitat and Wind River. Hunting pressure in the Centerville area of Klickitat County appeared to be heavy all week as hunters targeted private lands experiencing some damage issues.

October 29, 2007

WDFW volunteer treats site overgrown with moss with lime to increase forage for elk.
WDFW volunteer treats site overgrown with moss with lime to increase forage for elk.
WDFW volunteer treats site overgrown with moss with lime to increase forage for elk.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Forage Enhancement:
Volunteer Mike Braaten has begun work on an elk forage enhancement project near the east end of the wildlife area. When complete, the project will provide increased forage production on approximately 40 acres and establish trees and shrubs along the upper portion of Bear Creek to improve riparian conditions. Recently Mr. Braaten spread one ton of lime and harrowed a portion of this area as the first step toward improving soil conditions for plant growth. The site was first planted in the late 1990's and was quite productive for a few years, but has now become overgrown with moss, thereby eliminating most of the forage value. Additional liming and harrowing will continue until the site is planted early next spring. The rough ground and terrain will dictate that the bulk of the work be done with ATV's.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Osprey Education: District Wildlife Biologist Anderson met with local Columbia River Gorge volunteers to assist with construction of 3 osprey platforms. These platforms will be placed on problem utility poles with Osprey nests in Klickitat County. The local volunteers will build the platforms in cooperation with the Goldendale High School and the local PUD will install them this fall. In addition, the high school students will conduct a field trip to learn more about osprey use of the Columbia River Gorge and their nesting ecology.

GAME DIVISION

Mt. St. Helens Society of American Foresters Tour: District Biologist Miller and Wildlife Area Manager Calkins gave a presentation at the Weyerhaeuser Forest Learning Center to three groups as part of the Society of American Foresters Convention. The group was on a tour of the Mt. St. Helens area. Miller and Calkins spoke on the history of the elk herd in the area and how conditions have changed on the wildlife area and in the surrounding landscape. Of particular interest to the group were how commercial forestry effects elk management and the techniques we use in managing the wildlife area.