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

Click here
for Directions

 

Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
July 2008

July 7, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Wildlife Area Managers have been working hard this week on finalizing their Recreation and Conservation Office grant applications to secure funding for a variety of important projects for these Wildlife Areas (e.g., species and habitat restoration, access improvements).

GAME DIVISION

Private Lands Access: Biologist Anderson met with a landowner in the Trout Lake Valley that has a Hunt by Written Permission contract with WDFW. Restricted Hunting Permits were picked up and discussions were initiated about potential habitat improvement projects that could occur on his land for improved oak habitat. The landowner is very pleased with the current program and would like to see it expanded.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Clark County Bald Eagles: A combined effort by Biologist Holman and various volunteers checked several of the known bald eagle nesting territories in Clark County. Most sites are occupied and productivity looks good in spite of the long rainy spring. Especially prominent and popular is the bald eagle pair at Battle Ground Lake State Park. Visitors to the Park enjoy watching the eagles hunt this volcanic lake surrounded by large Douglas fir and cedar trees. Mallard ducks and planted rainbow trout provide most meals for these popular eagles.

July 14, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven conducted a bluebird nest box survey on the Wildlife Area. Of 25 nest boxes checked, 9 were occupied by western bluebirds. Another box contained a dead juvenile bluebird. One box was destroyed by vandals and two dead birds were found in the debris on the ground. One box was occupied by swallows and one box was occupied by an unknown species of songbird. One box contained an egg (not bluebird), but seemed to be abandoned (the roof of the box was torn off). Eleven boxes were unoccupied.

Manager VanLeuven worked with WCC on the Sondino Unit on fence repairs and preparing wide fuel breaks in the grass along a property line. The crew was able to observe at least 7 western pond turtles during their visit.

GAME DIVISION

Band-Tailed Pigeon Surveys: Surveys of band-tailed pigeons arriving at mineral sites continue in Region 5. Band-tails use mineral sites extensively during the summer months. Mineral springs are important for mineral intake by adult pigeons, especially during the nesting season. Large concentrations of birds congregate at these sites especially during the summer months. In the Pacific Northwest, mineral sites most likely provide high sodium and to a lesser degree calcium in the diet as a supplement to the birds food requirements. Long-term trends in the use of such sites serve as indicators of overall population. These surveys are part of a coordinated effort to monitor band-tailed pigeon populations in the Northwest. The survey protocol for band-tail mineral sites prescribes a single visit to each location during the period encompassing July 10-20. Surveyors count all arriving and departing pigeons beginning 30 minutes prior to sunrise and concluding at noon.

Operation Dark Goose Operation Dark Goose
Operation Dark Goose Operation Dark Goose
Operation Dark Goose

Biologists Holman and Prince completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Cedar Creek site. A total of 312 pigeons arrived at the mineral spring during the course of the survey. The result at the Cedar Creek site is somewhat higher than those of recent years. Pigeon surveys are scheduled for next week at additional mineral sites in Region 5.

Operation Dark Goose: Biologists from WDFW, ODFW, USFWS, Oregon State University, and volunteers combined to capture geese on Miller Sands Island this week. The object of the capture is to band and neck collar geese that resemble the Dusky goose, which is managed by harvest quota through Pacific Flyway regulations. These local birds nest on Miller Sands Island and do not migrate to the Copper River delta in AK.

A helicopter is used to coax the birds into the trap where they are banded and collared for future identification at hunter check stations and in field surveys. Young birds are released with adults to facilitate family groups getting together soon after release. Birds are handled carefully to avoid injuries due to the capture and processing.

A big thanks to all the volunteers and agency personnel that made this project a success.


Sandhill Crane Survey
Sandhill Crane Survey

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson and Stocking continue to survey sandhill cranes in Klickitat County. This year sandhill crane colt (young) production has been outstanding. To date we have banded six colts with significant assistance from local volunteers in the community. This large number of early season nest successes has not been documented in the Glenwood Valley for many years. We typically rely on second nesting attempts for much of any particular years colt productivity. There are at least three additional colts that will be targeted for banding in upcoming weeks. This years early success has been attributed to favorable wetland nesting conditions created by higher than normal spring run-off. An aerial survey is scheduled for next week to further monitor other nesting pairs that have been more elusive during our weekly ground surveys.


July 21, 2008

Mineral Springs Cleanup:
Accumulated household garbage and remodeling debris were removed from old borrow pit on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mineral Springs Cleanup: Manager VanLeuven worked with the WCC crew to clean up a dumping site on the Mineral Springs Unit. Accumulated household garbage and remodeling debris were removed from an old borrow pit near Hwy 142 and loaded into a WDFW flatbed truck for disposal at the Goldendale transfer station. Woody limbs trimmed from ornamental trees and shrubs were left on site to decompose naturally. After picking up the refuse, the WCC crew constructed a barrier of rocks and a shallow ditch across the access road into the pit to eliminate driving access. Work was interrupted for about 20 minutes by shooting overhead. Manager VanLeuven located the shooter, advised him that a crew was working nearby, and requested that all shooting stop for the rest of the day. Despite hot conditions, difficult work, and poison oak presence, the crew successfully completed the project. Manager VanLeuven will also post signs.

GAME DIVISION

Band-Tailed Pigeon Surveys: Surveys of band-tailed pigeons arriving at mineral sites continue in Region 5. Band-tails use mineral sites extensively during the summer months. Mineral springs are important for mineral intake by adult pigeons, especially during the nesting season. Large concentrations of birds congregate at these sites especially during the summer months. In the Pacific Northwest, mineral sites most likely provide high sodium and to a lesser degree calcium in the diet as a supplement to the bird’s food requirements. Long-term trends in the use of such sites serve as indicators of overall population. These surveys are part of a coordinated effort to monitor band-tailed pigeon populations in the Northwest. The survey protocol for band-tail mineral sites prescribes a single visit to each location during the period encompassing July 10-20. Surveyors count all arriving and departing pigeons beginning 30 minutes prior to sunrise and concluding at noon.

Wildlife Biologist Holman completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Kalama River site. A total of 350 pigeons arrived at the mineral spring during the course of the survey. The result at the Kalama River site is somewhat higher than those of recent years.

Wildlife Biologist Anderson completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey along the Wind River in Skamania County. A total of 141 band -tailed pigeons were counted at the mineral spring during the course of the survey. This count is down from previous years’ survey results. During the survey, an adult bald eagle spent considerable time perching and foraging immediately adjacent to the mineral springs. The presence of the bald eagle no doubt influenced the low count at the mineral spring in comparison to past years.

Wildlife Biologists Miller and Prince met with Weyerhaeuser Vail tree farm staff to secure a key and discuss the mineral spring survey. Access to the site is via Weyerhaeuser roads but the birds are actually using a site on private property. We sent a letter to the landowner advising of the survey and requesting permission to complete the survey. The survey has been conducted for many years and yields valuable data on band-tailed pigeon population trends.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Marbled Murrelet Survey: Wildlife Biologist Prince assisted Biologist Ritchie with a marbled murrelet survey in Naselle this week. Marbled murrelets are fairly small seabirds that travel up to 45 miles to nest in old growth coastal forests. The site that was surveyed had very high activity; however, only one pair of birds showed any nesting behavior. Biologist Prince was going to assist Biologist Ritchie next week with a murrelet survey in Chehalis, but this has been canceled because roads leading to the survey area are impassable. The Chehalis site is a long term monitoring site for murrelets and can hopefully be reached next year for surveys.

July 28, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Purple Loosestrife Bio-control Release:
Assistant Manager Hauswald released 250 Galerucella calmariensis adult insects as a bio-control agent for purple loosestrife along the south shoreline of Vancouver Lake. The insects feed on the foliage of the plant preventing it from going to seed and will eventually kill the plant itself. Loosestrife has been an increasing problem along the shoreline of the Wildlife Area which, if left untreated, can out compete and displace native plants and animals in the area’s wetlands. The release was in coordination with Clark County Weed Management, which supplied the insects for the release.

Field Activities: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins completed replacing posts as needed and built two stretch braces along 1/4 mile of fence being repaired on the South Unit. This fence is now ready to run new wire. Technician Babcock removed wire from another 1/4 mile of fence to be repaired and trimmed limbs, weeds, and grass along its’ length in preparation for running the new wire. Babcock and Assistant Manager Hauswald continued mowing pastures to control weeds and maintain them for winter use by geese and Sandhill Cranes. The smaller tractor we use broke down and was hauled to a dealer to be assessed. The engine lost all of its’ coolant rapidly due to a loose drain petcock that caught on some vegetation and overheated severely. We believe that this will be a major repair. Hauswald has continued to focus daily on water drawdowns in wetland basins in the Vancouver Lake Unit and this task is finally nearing completion. It appears that we achieved good control of reed canary grass with the good water year and particularly in areas where disking treatments were applied last summer. This should result in good stands of native seed producing plants that are particularly attractive to waterfowl.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
DNR and WCC Collaboration:
Manager VanLeuven met with DNR to discuss campground improvement work they have offered to complete. The DNR crews have already completed a lot of cleaning up this year and have placed logs to discourage people from driving into areas they shouldn't - the campgrounds look good. Manager VanLeuven took the fire crew supervisor on a driving tour and discovered that several trees had fallen across the roads. Provided with a map, the crew supervisor sawed the roads open. During the tour, Manager VanLeuven found that a patch of Canary grass is growing next to an important pond in a western gray squirrel area. It is also present along the edge of another pond near the Sheep Canyon Rd. VanLeuven will take action to eradicate this extremely invasive grass. .

Manager VanLeuven wrote a plan for the WCC crew for a forest thinning project along the Anderson Road and Old Headquarters Rd. VanLeuven toured an area that has been thinned with the WCC crew and then had the crew practice all appropriate techniques at the KWA Headquarters, observing all the rules for operating the equipment and use of appropriate safety gear.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman continued the western pond turtle capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Thirty basking traps have been set in 4 different water-bodies in an attempt to capture as large a portion of the Refuge's pond turtle population as possible. This is an extension of the 14-day trapping effort conducted in May. Environmental conditions for captures have been suitable but far from ideal. While there were high levels of cold water combined with cool weather in the May trapping effort; warm, shallow water has made the July effort a challenge. Ideal conditions are cold water with hot sunny days. Results of the effort will be the subject of future reports. Thanks to Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Fisheries Biologist Groesbeck, Scientific Technician Pyzik, Biologist Prince, and Customer Service Specialist Varshock for their help during this stage of the project.

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson is currently reviewing a USFS proposal for trail development near a peregrine falcon eyrie in the Columbia River Gorge. At issue is the presence of an undeveloped and unapproved trail that is being considered for upgrade that will increase recreation near an established peregrine falcon nest site. Further development of the trail will violate current federal and state guidelines for protection of peregrine nest sites. The USFS has proposed three alternatives that call for no trail, full trail development, and a trail with seasonal restrictions. Development of the trail has other problems including safety issues and modification of talus habitat.

GAME DIVISION

Pigeon Mineral Springs Survey: Survey Biologist Prince completed the Newaukum River band-tailed pigeon survey this week. The morning started off a little slow, but picked up towards the middle of the survey and a decent amount of pigeons were recorded. The actual mineral spring that draws the pigeons to the area is out of site, so pigeons are recorded as they land in the trees surrounding the site. From the survey location pigeons can be seen dropping into the site and then returning to the trees before eventually departing. The number of pigeons arriving and departing the site for every thirty-minute interval is recorded on the datasheet. These surveys provide the state a long-term dataset for pigeons and population trend information.

Boat safety: District Wildlife Biologist Miller assisted with a Motorboat Operator Certification Class (MOCC) in Spokane this week. All agency employees who operate boats need to complete MOCC within the next 2-3 years as new rules about boat training are implemented. The training is a mixture of classroom and on the water exercises lasting 3 days and employees get to operate a variety of vessels that are used within WDFW. Participants in last week’s class were from the Wildlife, Fish, and Habitat programs from all over the state. Miller will be involved in additional classes in August and October of this year and for 3-4 weeks in 2009. The class schedule for 2009 has not yet been developed, but will be announced hopefully in October of this year.