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Southwest - Region 5
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
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excluding legal holidays

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
August 2008

August 11, 2008


Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman summarized the 2008 western pond turtle capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. A significant effort was made this year in an attempt to capture as large a portion of the Refuge's pond turtle population as possible. Thirty traps were employed in 4 water bodies on the Refuge and checked daily during a 14-day trapping session in May and a 9-day session in July. Environmental conditions for captures were not ideal during either period. While there were high levels of cold water combined with cool weather in the May trapping effort, warm water and warm days made the July effort a challenge.

In spite of the relatively poor trapping conditions, 203 total pond turtle captures comprising 64 different individual turtles were recorded over the 23-days of trapping. One hundred-seventy-one incidental captures of western painted turtles were also recorded during the effort. Research Scientist Vander Haegen will use the data generated from the captures to calculate a population estimate for the Refuge. Special thanks to Fish and Wildlife Biologist Groesbeck for her help with a significant portion of the turtle trapping work. Also, thanks to several others who helped out as well, including Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Scientific Technician Pyzik, Volunteer Renan, Biologist Prince, Scientific Technician Ridenour, Priority Habitats and Species Biologist Azerrad, and Customer Service Specialists Gonzalez and Varshock for their help in this important aspect of the recovery of the State Endangered western pond turtle.


Three Year Hunting Season Evaluation: District 9 held its local public meeting in White Salmon to present proposed changes for the next 3 year hunting cycle. This was our first local meeting in the Gorge and it was well received by the local community. We had a variety of interested people that attended including deer and elk hunters from Skamania and Klickitat counties as well as large timber and agricultural landowners in the area. Most comments from the public were favorable to WDFW proposed changes; especially those related to GMU boundary changes in Klickitat County.

Region 5 Deer Herd Composition Surveys: Black-tail and mule deer herd composition surveys are nearly underway in Region 5. The surveys are conducted annually during the period beginning August 15 and continuing through September 30th. Wildlife Program Staff along with volunteers will actively conduct surveys as well as document any deer seen during other work (or play) activities. Any Region 5 staff member who is interested is encouraged to collect this data as well. Please contact Biologist Holman for a copy of the survey form and further information. Please be aware that it is extremely important to classify all deer observed, i.e., don't just mention the big bucks or healthy does with two nice fawns. Thanks in advance to anybody who helps Wildlife Program out with this important part of our deer management efforts in Region 5.

Pigeon Mineral Spring search: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and a local volunteer searched for a new site to conduct mineral spring/roost surveys in the Lower Columbia. The historic site at Pigeon Bluff had ~ 30 crows and 3 bald eagles but no pigeons in attendance. Pigeon numbers using this site have declined in recent years and an alternative site is needed. The area from Jim Crow creek to Gray's Point was scanned from the river and approximately 23 bald eagles were observed but no pigeons. The mineral spring survey is a Pacific Flyway management tool to monitor trends in band-tailed pigeons throughout the breeding range.

Hoof Rot in Elk: District Wildlife Biologist Miller has been contacted by a hunter with an August Boistfort hunt permit regarding limping elk. This hunter has been scouting several days and observed that many of the elk in the Wildwood Valley are showing signs of hoof rot. In one herd of 34, 7 elk were limping and 2 looked as if they might not survive long. Local landowners confirm these observations and are very concerned about their livestock being infected by elk. The hunter was worried about the health of the elk if he happened to shoot one that was not visibly limping but had miss-shaped hooves. Increasing number of calls have been received this year regarding reports of limping elk with callers concerned about consumption of the animals, spread of disease to livestock, and overall health of the herds. Staff have drafted a proposal to examine this issue, which is currently in review.

August 18, 2008

Burn area on the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area.
Burn area on the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area.


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Vancouver Lake Fire:
While conducting a routine site visit on the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area, Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald was contacted by a member of the public wanting to know why we were burning an area along the shoreline of the lake. Hauswald informed them that we were not doing any burning and went to investigate. Upon arrival he found a burned area of about ½ acre in, and adjacent to, riparian vegetation near the lakeshore. The fire had already burned itself out and stopped when it reached green vegetation and the edge of a service road. Several small sites were still smoldering which he put out with a shovel. The source of ignition is not clear. Possible sources include a tossed cigarette and sparks from an un-permitted fire, which we sometimes find along the lake. It is also possible that it was a result of brush clearing on the site several days prior to it being discovered. The photo at right shows a portion of the site. Because the site was already targeted for restoration, the fire was of no real impact to habitat on the site. The objective of the restoration is to remove Himalayan blackberry and replace it with desirable vegetation.

Removing the old railroad bridge in Dead Canyon is part of the KWA's Road Maintainance and Abandonment Plan.

Removing the old railroad bridge in Dead Canyon is part of the KWA's Road Maintainance and Abandonment Plan.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan Activity:
Manager VanLeuven conducted a site visit of the old railroad bridge in Dead Canyon. The proposal to remove the bridge, as well as the fill at each end of the bridge, is part of the KWA's Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan. As this site involves a historic structure, a preliminary assessment is needed, which includes photo documentation. Manager VanLeuven also wanted to evaluate the amount of potential habitat damage that could occur by moving equipment into the area to deal with the bridge removal - an approach from the south end of the old rail bed would probably cause the least amount of impact. However, coming from the north would be more difficult and cause more oak and pine habitat damage. Additionally, there is a good fence built right on the old rail bed that would be damaged if equipment were moved through there. Manager VanLeuven believes the project can be satisfactorily handled at reasonable cost by simply removing 50 or 60 feet of fill from each end of the bridge and piling it on the old rail bed nearby. This would cause less habitat and fence damage, would open up the floodplain of the creek, and would leave the historic concrete structure intact.

WCC Crew Activities: Manager VanLeuven continues to work with the WCC crew. The crew finished a fence repair job near the KWA office, collected old fence wire that had been left on the ground, piled dead material near camping areas for burning later, and checked an area where they had planted trees and shrubs along the Klickitat River last spring. The single-strand electric fence to exclude cattle has been surprisingly effective and the trees and shrubs look healthy. VanLeuven is very pleased with the work they accomplished for this project, which was conducted under guidance of Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group. An additional positive point is that the livestock owner provided the fencing and is maintaining the fence as well.

Cascade Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis) a unique subspecies of the Red Fox.
Cascade Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis) a unique subspecies of the Red Fox.
District 10 held its local public meeting in Toledo to present proposed changes for the next 3 year hunting cycle.
District 10 held its local public meeting in Toledo to present proposed changes for the next 3 year hunting cycle.


Carnivore Surveys: The South Cascades Carnivore Project was initiated in February 2008 by wildlife biologist Jocelyn Akins as a partnership between wildlife conservation experts and citizens to monitor forest carnivore populations using non-invasive remote detection methods. Crews work in cooperation with Distirct Biologist Anderson of WDFW to fill forest carnivore conservation needs. Research efforts recently produced a photograph of a Cascade Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis) at 6600 ft on in the Mt Adams Wilderness. Little is known about this genetically and ecological unique subspecies of Red Fox. The project intends to focus efforts on further detections to gain a better understanding of this high-elevation native fox, and other rare forest carnivores in the South Cascades. Current plans are to continue this effort through the winter of 2008-2009.


Three Year Hunting Season Evaluation: District 10 held its local public meeting in Toledo to present proposed changes for the next 3 year hunting cycle. This was our first local meeting in Toledo and it was well received by the local community. We had a variety of interested people that attended providing diverse input, including local landowners as well as large timber and agricultural landowners in the area. Most comments from the public were favorable to WDFW proposed changes; especially those related to addressing elk damage issues.

August 25, 2008


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Shillapoo Fence Repairs:
Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Babcock have completed the repair of another 1/4 mile of boundary fence at the northwest portion of the South Unit. This included removal and replacement of all wire, straightening almost every t-post, rebuilding one stretch brace, and replacing a few of the wood posts along the line. This fence is largely administrative and its primary purpose is to identify the area boundary for the public. Another section to repair is immediately to the south and will require almost total replacement. However, we may shift our next fencing work to the North Unit where a fence is planned to improve pasture management associated with a grazing lease. The rationale behind shifting sites has to do primarily with the logistics of working at the North Unit pasture site during the wet season and we would like to complete as much of the work as possible before the rains begin.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Maintenance Activities:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins replaced signage regarding the prohibition of dogs on the wildlife area, delivered one ton fertilizer for use later this fall, pulled diffuse and spotted knapweed at two locations, and made repairs to tubes placed over seedling trees planted this spring on a recent visit to the mudflow portion of the Wildlife Area. We have been conducting control work at two knapweed locations for several years. Both sites were about 1/4 acre in size when first detected. This year we have found only about 50-60 plants in an area of about 200 square feet at the diffuse knapweed site and only found 5 plants at the spotted knapweed site in only a few square feet. Both of these infestations are associated with past stream crossing construction projects on the area and the original seed was probably transported in on construction equipment.

With high elk densities here, establishing coniferous trees for erosion control purposes has been a challenge. Cottonwood and a variety of conifer seedlings had tree tubes placed on them this spring at the time of planting to protect them from elk browsing until they were established. Survival this year among trees checked so far appears to be good at this time and is estimated at about 80% or higher. An unanticipated glitch has caused us to have to spend additional time maintaining the tubes. The zip ties that came with the tubes will not hold securely to the 3/8" rebar stakes that we have to use because wood stakes snap off too easily when an animal hits them. Many of the tubes on the cottonwoods had come off of the stakes and it appears that some of the elk have learned to grasp the loose end of the zip tie with their mouth and pull the tube off the stake exposing the plant with highly palatable fresh growth. In response, we are adding a second small zip tie around the stake and original tie which appears to be working. Many of these plants will have a 4-6 foot high 12" diameter hand made wire tube placed on them later as a further measure of protection beyond that provided by the plastic tubes.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Blackberry Control:
Manager VanLeuven finalized arrangements for blackberry control at the Sondino Unit. Discussion with the contractor included choice of herbicide and adjuvant that is less hazardous in case of accidental exposure to people and their approval for use right up to the edge of water. The contractor will avoid areas near water or on non-target trees and shrubs as well as upland areas where western pond turtles may be present. This is a good time to spray for blackberries because water levels are down and most of the plants are on dry ground. Blackberries have spread quite a bit due to minimal control effort, and will not be eradicated n just one year. Some of the plants may require physical removal by a labor crew due to proximity of desirable vegetation or animal activity.

Swale Creek Unit:
Write up
[PDF Version] by Habitat Biologist Weiler on the new acquisition of Swale Creek to the Klickitat Wildlife Area.


Sandhill Crane Management: Biologist Anderson met with DNR foresters to evaluate a proposed timber sale that is located in sandhill crane habitat in the Glenwood Valley. The primary issue is timber harvest adjacent to a large meadow and wetland complex. Timing restrictions for timber harvest will be put in place near the meadow habitat. Additional discussions will occur with DNR wildlife biologists about a future habitat improvement project to increase openings around the meadow and to improve wetland habitat conditions for breeding sandhill cranes.


Deer Productivity Surveys: With the help of various volunteers from the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club, Biologist Holman conducted a deer spotlighting survey in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). One hundred thirty-three deer were located over the course of the 4-hour survey. Productivity surveys are conducted annually between August 15th and September 30th. Data gained from these efforts and through the work of volunteer deer surveyors throughout the Region will be incorporated into the Region 5 deer management effort.