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Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
September 2007

September 4, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Maintenance Activities: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Volunteer Dave Remmen repaired or maintained tree protectors on conifers (cedar and noble fir) planted near the edge of the mudflow last spring that have survived to date. As reported previously, some of the planted trees were lost to erosion shortly after planting but those that have remained are doing reasonably well. Maintaining the tree protectors has been a challenge and we will probably be moving toward using rebar for stakes, as many of the wooden stakes were found cracked or broken. Alder that survived the high water shortly after planting are doing extremely well.

We are also posting ‘No Entry’ signs along the eastern boundary of the Wildlife Area with the National Volcanic Monument, which is closed to public access. We felt this is necessary with the expanded hunting effort that will occur this fall and some evidence had been noted in the past that some hunters might have entered the monument. We have also recently learned that WDFW's surveyors will be resurveying this boundary. We had made this request because most of the old USFS markers have been lost or buried by the meandering river channel.

Calkins also dismantled one stretch brace on one elk trap wing in preparation to pull the posts at a later date. Some of the wood posts that had been removed previously were hauled to Vancouver for other uses.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Western Pond Turtle: Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven responded to a report from the Sondino Unit of theft of turtle eggs and temperature sensors. A total of 2 nests were raided. The screens that were placed over the nests when the nests were new were put back after the eggs were taken, so this was not a predation incident by an animal. It is unknown yet if additional nests may have been stolen as well. This is unfortunate and, as the hatching date for the nests draws near, the nests will be checked by WDFW.

GAME DIVISION

Deer Productivity Surveys: With the help of various volunteers, Biologist Holman conducted deer spotlighting surveys in Game Management Units 568 (Washougal), 564 (Battle Ground) and 550 (Coweeman). Productivity surveys are conducted annually between August 15th and September 30th. To date, the surveys appear to be indicating better fawn production than during 2006.

Mud Flow Hunt: Mailings have gone out for the first hunts to take place on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area Mud Flow Hunt Elk area. The hunt is designed to reduce elk numbers on the wildlife area and allow more forage to be available for the wintering elk. A secondary objective is to contribute to the overall herd goal of reducing the elk population in the St Helens elk herd area. Biologists will be collecting internal organs to sample for fat composition of the elk, which is an indicator of herd health.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson completed banding efforts for Sandhill crane colts this week with the USFWS at Conboy National Wildlife Refuge. A total of six colts were captured this season, each marked with color leg bands for future identification. The first capture was Jully 2nd and the last colt was captured August 27th. Three of the banded birds have fledged, two are still pre -fledging, and it is uncertain what the status is of the remaining colt. This brings the total number of banded colts over the past six years at Conboy National Wildlife Refuge to 36. Color banding is one of the best methods for assisting with determining juvenile survival, distribution changes of adult birds at nesting sites, and adult mortality rates.

September 10, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
The Washington Conservation Corps continues to work with the Klickitat Wildlife Area manager on several projects such as posting signs at the Sondino Unit and painting gates. They also continue to assist with cutting downed trees and stacking the limbs and log sections.

GAME DIVISION

Elk Pre-Season Herd Composition Surveys: Biologist Holman completed pre-season elk herd composition surveys in GMUs 554 (Yale) and 556 (Toutle). Foggy weather made morning flights impossible but the afternoons of September 4 and 5 were suitable for surveys. Twenty-one elk were observed and classified in the Yale GMU with a resulting population structure of 42 bulls per 100 cows, 33 calves per 100 cows and a yearling bull percentage (a surrogate measure of bull mortality) of 40%. In the elk-rich Toutle GMU, 361 elk were surveyed with 341 classified. The resulting population structure in the Toutle GMU was 31 bulls per 100 cows, 48 calves per 100 cows and a yearling bull percentage of 20%. Thanks to Regional Habitat Program Manager Rymer and volunteer Renan for their sharp eyes and strong stomachs during the surveys. Thanks also to Regional Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Enforcement Officer Myers, and Fisheries Biologist Weinheimer all of whom waited patiently while foggy conditions eliminated their chance to help out on the survey flights.

Land Access Effort: The first of 6 scheduled volunteer orientations for the St. Helens Tree Farm Land Access cooperative effort between WDFW, Weyerhaeuser, and volunteer organizations was held Friday night in Longview. District Wildlife Biologist Miller, Fish and Wildlife Technician Pyzik, and Wildlife Program Manager Jonker signed up 57 volunteers for the effort. Program Manager Jonker provided a presentation on the purpose of the effort, WDFW policies, and safety guidelines, and Weyerhaeuser guidelines were presented by Weyerhaeuser Forester Sheldahl. Volunteers represented several organizations and several questions and discussions about the effort were held. We would like to thank all the volunteers for their effort and time and we look forward to implementing a successful program through the ethical stewardship of the volunteers.

September 17, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manger VanLeuven continued work on fire abatement as well as various repair items on the Wildlife Area. VanLeuven spent time with bow hunters discussing a variety of topics including the upcoming road closures, which they were mostly supportive of. In addition, hunters were pleased with the presence of WDFW on the Wildlife Area.

GAME DIVISION

Hunting Season: Region 5 district and assistant district biologists and wildlife area managers are fielding a heavy load of questions from the public regarding this fall’s hunting seasons. Questions range from regulations, where to go, and general information.

Land Access Effort: The second of 6 scheduled volunteer orientations for the St. Helens Tree Farm Land Access cooperative effort between WDFW, Weyerhaeuser, and volunteer organizations was held Monday night in Olympia. Fish and Wildlife Technician Pyzik and Wildlife Program Manager Jonker signed up an additional 13 volunteers for the effort. A similar format of presentations and discussions was followed. Once again, we would like to thank all the volunteers for their effort and time and we look forward to implementing a successful program through the ethical stewardship of the volunteers.

OTHER

Workshop: Program Manager Jonker attended a workshop on integrating Geographic Information Systems and human dimensions with researchers and managers from Colorado State University, Arizona, and South Dakota.

September 24, 2007

Habitat restoration on the Davis Lake Unit.
Wildlife Area staff sprayed, plowed, disked and are currently reseeding approximately 40 acres of pasture on the Davis Lake unit.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Davis Lake Unit Ditch and Pasture Project: Wildlife area staff, as part of our approved 5-year HPA to clean out and restore the drainage on the Davis Lake Unit, cleaned out approximately 2700 linear feet of agricultural ditches. Last year’s high water events had re-silted much of the ditch that had been cleaned out in 2006. Manager Grabski met with Habitat Biologist Steve Bell to evaluate whether the work planned for this year was regulated by the HPA secured in 2006. The purpose of the project is to restore the pastures to a condition where reed canarygrass is not favored. Reed canarygrass does not provide ideal wintering habitat for migrating waterfowl or a preferred graze for local elk. The project is intended to fulfill the habitat improvement objective for this unit as outlined in the Wildlife Area management plan.

In addition to the aforementioned activity, Wildlife Area staff sprayed, plowed, disked, and are currently reseeding approximately 40 acres of pasture on this unit. The fall planting is timed to allow the seed to germinate and get an early start to both suppress annual weeds as well as to provide a forage cover for wintering wildlife.

Kiona Culvert Beaver Control: Wildlife Area staff placed a grated barrier in front of one of the culverts on the Kiona Unit. A beaver have decided to repeatedly block the culvert. Last year Kiona creek left its banks and the resulting high water compromised this approach due to this beaver activity. The grate will prevent the beaver from being able to stuff the culvert making it easier to remove the debris periodically.

Davis Lake Weed Control: Wildlife Area staff mowed approximately 3 acres of blackberry that had overgrown the ~3-acre timber clearing on the Davis Lake Unit. If weather permits, a chemical application will be made before winter weather sets in. This area appears to receive a large amount of big game use. This is probably due to the area being relatively isolated. Though blackberry provides browse for wildlife species such as deer this area is invaded with it.

Recreation Information: Lewis County is currently under a burn ban and campfires are only allowed in approved fire rings in established campgrounds - open fires are not permitted anywhere on the wildlife area.

Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday at 1-888-502-8690.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manger VanLeuven finalized work for the season on the Wildlife Area with the Washington Conservation Corps. Evening temperatures are down to freezing at night already on the Wildlife Area and during field work several flocks of turkeys have been observed on the Wildlife Area. Cattle escaped onto WDFW property east of the Glenwood Highway, then came down Canyon Creek and crossed the highway through a hole in the fence into the Wildlife Area office compound. Cows were on the lawn in the compound Tuesday evening. Some of the cows (which were mostly black) were on the highway (which is black) that night (overcast, no moon) and there was at least one minor vehicle crash. The owner of the cattle was contacted and the animals were all moved by Wednesday morning.

GAME DIVISION

Private Lands Access: Biologist Holman conducted visits to dozens of private forestland access points in Klickitat County. Appropriate signs were replaced at access points as needed. Collectively the lands owned by Hancock, Western Pacific, Longview Fibre, and SDS offer free access to tens of thousands of acres for hunting and other recreation. Access is primarily located in the northern and western portions of Klickitat County, in Game Management Units 578 (West Klickitat) and 388 (Grayback). These landowners generally allow walk-in (No Motorized Access) to their lands. These areas are especially popular areas for deer and turkey hunting. Hunters enjoying these lands during the upcoming seasons are reminded to respect private property, be aware of fire danger, and obey all relevant signs and other rules. Note that the private forestlands in that portion of Klickitat County that lies east of Highway 97 (Game Management Unit 382) remain closed to all public entry.