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Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Vancouver, WA 98661

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
February 2008

February 4, 2008

Snow has impacted many of the acitivities of the Klickitat and Cowlitz Wildlife Areas.
Snow has impacted many of the acitivities of the Klickitat and Cowlitz Wildlife Areas.
Snow has impacted many of the acitivities of the Klickitat and Cowlitz Wildlife Areas.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Emergency Winter Feeding Initiated:
Hay was delivered on Monday the 28th and WDFW immediately began the emergency winter-feeding on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. We currently estimate that at least 600 elk are on the area. During the first week, between 1300 and 4000 pounds of alfalfa have been fed per day. Conditions for the feeding crew have been somewhat miserable, having to deal with driving through up to 18 inches of snow to reach the site. For the time being, we have abandoned the use of larger flatbed trucks and are feeding out of 4 wheel drive pickups, which are currently the only vehicles that can make it in and out of the site safely. As we would ordinarily expect under conditions such as these, staff have observed two elk mortalities that may be due to winter conditions. Last year, even with a feeding program operating, a total of 18 mortalities were found on the site, an indicator that forage is not the only factor leading to winter mortality. Harsh winter conditions are just as important in dictating the severity of winter on the animals.

Klickitat and Cowlitz Wildlife Areas:
Staff at both Wildlife Areas have been spending many hours clearing and trudging through snow; impacting outside related work activities. Staff have been monitoring impacts to wildlife.

GAME DIVISION

Region 5 Post-Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman compiled the results of post-season deer surveys conducted in GMU 388 (Grayback) and 382 (East Klickitat). During the effort a total of just over 800 deer were classified with a combination of aerial and ground surveys employed. Please see the table and graph below summarizing the post-season deer survey results from 2003 through 2007 in these two important Region 5 GMUs. A post-hunting season goal of 15 bucks per 100 does has been established as a state-wide benchmark per the Game Management Plan. Note that although located in Region 5, and containing both mule and black-tailed deer as well as hybrid animals, GMU 388 is now managed as a mule-deer area. A three-point or larger antler restriction for all user-groups was implemented in 2006 and the general rifle season was shortened to 14 days. During the period spanning 2003 through 2005, Grayback was hunted under a more liberal two-point restriction and offered a longer general rifle season. Post-season buck to doe ratios under prior management strategy averaged just 8 bucks per 100 does annually. The survey indicates that this change in management strategy has resulted in improved post-hunting-season escapement of bucks in GMU 388. WDFW will continue to monitor the post-season deer population in GMU 388 in future years.

Region 5 Post Season Deer Survey Summary 2003-2007 Region 5 Post Season Deer Survey Summary 2003-2007
Region 5 Post Season Deer Survey Summary 2003-2007
Click chart for enlargement

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbia River Gorge Trails: Biologist Anderson is currently assisting the Habitat Division with review of several proposed trail systems in the Columbia River Gorge. Many of the trails under review are mountain bike trails that have not been approved for development by the USFS and have been built in sensitive wildlife habitats near Catherine and Major Creeks near White Salmon. The public review process is attempting to go back and determine if many of the trails should be closed or allowed to continue to exist. Trials are currently in areas with sensitive raptor nesting sites and big game concentration areas.

February 11, 2008

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Bald Eagle Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman participated in a two-day session with other WDFW staff involved in bald eagle management. Several aspects of bald eagle management and bald eagle Plan development are currently conducted in various ways throughout the State. Several of these inconsistencies should be relatively easy to address and standardize including the need to develop standard templates for all eagle plans, the need for all WDFW Staff in both Wildlife and Habitat Programs to have easy, up-to-date information on eagle locations and history, the need to standardize the procedure for signing and storage of eagle plans, and the formatting of eagle related data. At a policy level, WDFW will need to address more difficult questions relating to bald eagle site management, population monitoring, etc., following down listing to "Sensitive" at both the State and Federal level.

Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson is working with Olympia staff to integrate statewide western pond turtle capture data into the agency database. Regional staff also met with Olympia Diversity staff to develop guidelines for next year’s Matrix.

GAME DIVISION

Pacific Northwest Sportsman’s Show: Region 5 staff worked throughout the 5-day Sportsman’s Show event. The show was well attended and WDFW's booth drew in much attention, especially the enforcement elk decoy. Many thanks to all the dedicated staff who provided pertinent information in response to the many questions from all the interested attendees.

February 19, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Habitat Improvement:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven met with the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group to discuss potential fish habitat improvement project sites on the Klickitat River and Swale Creek. These sites are on Klickitat Wildlife Area property.

Trespassing: Information was provided to Manager VanLeuven regarding trespassing on important parcels where Western Turtle ponds are present. A person has been running dogs and riding a mountain bike there even though there are signs present regarding closure to public access.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Oak Habitat Management: Biologist Anderson met with Olympia and Vancouver staff to develop a plan for oak habitat improvement in Klickitat County. The Klickitat Wildlife Area and surrounding ownerships were chosen as an initial project area for an oak improvement project. Past fire suppression has caused an increase in conifer growth and thus increased competition with oak habitat. 2008 will be used primarily for planning and mapping potential project areas with the goal of on the ground oak/conifer habitat improvement starting in 2009.

Sea Lions: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker attended the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and Committee meetings where the Council discussed several interim year funding proposals including 2 proposals submitted by Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission for sea lion related work (e.g., hazing, capture, marking, etc.).

February 25, 2008

Elk along the roadway where hay is being distributed.
Elk along the roadway where hay is being distributed.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Winter Feeding Update:
Agency staff continue to deliver alfalfa hay to the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on a daily basis. The Emergency Winter Feeding operation, which began on January 28th, was a significant challenge for the first couple of weeks due primarily to difficult road conditions from heavy snowfall. At one point we had a flat bed truck stuck on the Wildlife Area for over one week and had to resort to the use of 4 wheel drive pickups to transport the hay. We currently are feeding about two tons of hay per day and estimate that we have approximately 600 elk on the area. The attached photo shows some of the elk along the roadway where hay is being distributed.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Tree Plantings:
Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Fox have been busy this week planting about 1,800 trees at four different sites on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. Two of the sites are riparian plantings, and received about 1,100 trees; one was a cottonwood planting of 500 trees in an effort to restore a previous Great Blue Heron Rookery; and the fourth was an upland site, which received about 200 trees. A fifth site, which was approved for tree planting late last fall, will receive about 600 trees next week. The majority of the trees being planted are Oregon Oak, in an effort to restore native oak forest communities in the area. Each project site will take several years to complete the plantings and the desired plant composition at each.

Otter and porcupine.
An otter and a porcupine sleeping on a stump in the creek were observed during the site visit at Swale Creek area.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Projects:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven met with the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group to discuss the Swale Creek area. An otter and a porcupine sleeping on a stump in the creek were observed during the site visit. In addition, Manager VanLeuven conducted a site visit around the Sipes property with a Wildlife Area neighbor, Columbia Land Trust, and Habitat Biologist Weiler. Discussions included current condition of the habitat relative to western gray squirrels and other features, such as recent land uses, etc. The group observed two groups of deer and one western gray squirrel during the visit, as well as 25 to 30 squirrel nests. Manager VanLeuven also met with former Wildlife Area Manager Morrison to discuss various issues related to the Wildlife Area - Mr. Morrison provided a wealth of historical information that is very valuable with respect to current management considerations on the Wildlife Area.

GAME DIVISION

Hunting Season Recommendations: Biologist Holman reviewed preliminary harvest data for deer and elk in Region 5. Additionally, population modeling was conducted to ascertain what impact the liberalization of antlerless elk harvest in the St. Helens Herd had on the overall population. Further consideration was given regarding the severity of the current winter. Per the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Plan, the 2007 season began the 5-year effort to reduce the St. Helens Elk population from approximately 13,000 individuals to 10,000. As a follow-up to these efforts, Regional Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, District Wildlife Biologist Anderson, and Biologist Holman met with Game Division Manager Ware and Deer and Elk Section Manager Nelson regarding Region 5 hunting season proposals.

Columbian white-tailed deer webcam.
Fish and Wildlife Scientific Technician Ridenour and volunteer Howell spent a morning checking the cameras on Lord and Fisher Islands.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbian White Tailed Deer: Fish and Wildlife Scientific Technician Ridenour and volunteer Howell spent a morning checking the cameras on Lord and Fisher Islands. Of 11 images on Fisher Island, 1 contained a picture of a Black Tailed deer and 10 others were images of a coyote. No images of deer were recorded on Lord Island, although 1 camera had a battery malfunction. Images are used to estimate deer subspecies on the island during other surveys.

Administrative: District Wildlife Biologist Miller is recovering from surgery from a work related injury. Miller is required to wear a knee-high boot to prevent any moment of his ankle/heel for another 9 weeks. Since this injury is on Miller's right foot, he is unable to drive or engage in extensive walking/hiking until the end of April, and arrangements for some surveys will be impacted.