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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

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
October 2008

October 6, 2008


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Annual Contract Tasks:
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) funds the operation, maintenance, and enhancement activities occurring on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area as part of their wildlife mitigation program. From July through September each year Wildlife Area Manager Calkins must devote a substantial amount of time to satisfying the requirements of BPA's contracting system. This includes preparing a new statement of work for the coming fiscal year in the PISCES contract system and a detailed line item budget. An equipment inventory must also be updated each year. We then provide information on activities that may create soil disturbance to BPA's environmental compliance section to begin a cultural resources Section 106 review. Once these items that are required for a new contract are submitted to BPA for their review and approval, Calkins then begins work on documenting progress on individual work items in the current year’s contract in the PISCES system, which includes entering the quantity, location, and cost of completed work in their database. A narrative report is also required, which was completed and submitted by the September 30th due date. This year Calkins also reviewed and edited a report summarizing wetland vegetation sampling written by Assistant Manager Hauswald and also uploaded it into PISCES. After these reports are reviewed by BPA they will be available on their website. In the coming weeks Hauswald and Calkins will also be preparing a report of herbicide use during the 2008 contract period and an herbicide plan for the 2009 contract.

x x
Before and after forage enhancement project
at the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Forage Enhancement:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins recently spent a day helping Volunteer Mike Braaten with one of his projects funded through WDFW's Volunteer Cooperative Grants Program. The work, done primarily with ATV's, included spreading seed and fertilizer and dragging a pasture harrow across an area at the east end of the Wildlife Area where we hope to increase forage production for elk. This was the second seed application on this particular site this year. The previous work, done in the spring, made an obvious improvement to production on the site, however; it was apparent that a second application of seed would be beneficial. The images at right depict the site before the project began and increased growth on the site this year. Experience on similar sites in the Wildlife Area in the past has generally shown that it takes three to five years of diligent maintenance to get good productivity on sites like this. Mr. Braaten has received funding through the cooperative grants program for a second project near the entrance to the Wildlife Area that will get under way soon.

WDFW staff and Washington Conservation Corps crew worked to improve safety and appearance of the Leidle Park Campground on the Klickitat Wildlife Area

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Leidle Park Campground (WDFW boating access site):
Manager VanLeuven worked with Department of Natural Resources fire crews to implement some thinning of brush and small trees as well as trimming limbs on larger trees to improve the appearance and safety of the site. The Washington Conservation Corps crew will chip the piled material.

Off-Road/Access Activity: Manager VanLeuven has posted signs to advise people of routes that are off-limits to vehicle travel. VanLeuven worked on blocking an illegal ATV trail at a campground. Reports have been received of people using a "non-access" site along the Klickitat River for launching boats at the Mineral Springs Unit. This user-built boat ramp issue has recently become an issue. The streamside vegetation is being damaged due to people driving vehicles down to the water. Signs will be posted to try and curtail the activity however; it will probably require physical barriers to be effective.

Outreach: Manager VanLeuven gave a presentation exemplifying “outdoor careers” at evening camp to 7th grade students from the Outdoor School for the Goldendale School District.

Swale Creek Unit

Swale Creek Unit: Manager VanLeuven continued to survey the new property and evaluate fencing needs. Deer were observed in one corner of the parcel, which is fairly difficult to get to. The attached photo is a good view of the WDFW property north of Swale Canyon.


Pheasant Release Site Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald conducted car counts at the Shillapoo and Woodland Bottoms pheasant release sites. The counts are conducted three times each season at all Western Washington release sites and the information is used to allocate birds between sites the following season. During the counts 142 cars were tallied at the Shillapoo sites and 27 at the Woodland site, which is owned by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Volunteers will release pheasants at these sites twice per week throughout the season until Thanksgiving.

Deer Surveys: Biologists Holman and Volunteer Soderlind conduced a night spotlighting survey for deer in the Washougal (568) Game Management Unit. Survey conditions were favorable and 71 deer were observed (most were classified) during the 5-hour survey. Bobcats, nighthawks, owls, and a coyote were also observed during the effort. September 30th marks the conclusion of the deer productivity survey period for 2008. Any volunteers or WDFW Staff members who have deer observations recorded are reminded to turn their data in to Biologist Holman at the Region 5 office.

Mountain Goats: Biologist Prince joined USFS staff from Randle on a hike up Jumbo Peak to count mountain goats in the Dark Divide area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Eighteen goats were observed; two of them were kids. No collared goats were seen this year in the area. The round trip hike starts from Sunset Peak and is about 6 miles long. Fall colors and huckleberries were plentiful, making it a productive and enjoyable day.


Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Anderson reports that the 2008 field season is over and we had a record year for collection of juvenile hatchlings from the head start program. A total of 57 hatchlings have been collected and transported to the Oregon Zoo, and 52 juvenile western pond turtles have been collected and taken to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. This gives us a grand 109 hatchlings from Klickitat County this year. There are still a few eggs that may still hatch so there's a possibility of more. Biologist Slavens has done another great job of orchestrating the field effort this year.

Outreach/Education: Biologist Anderson gave a wildlife presentation to the Trout Lake Community Wildfire Protection Crew. Since 2004, the Trout Lake Community Wildfire Protection Pan has been funded to be a proactive force in the Trout Lake community, promoting wildfire awareness and planning fuel reduction projects to safeguard homes, property, livestock, and natural resources. Biologist Anderson presented information on local wildlife and how different habitat improvement projects can benefit the diversity of species found in that area.

October 13, 2008


Klickitat Wildlife Area: Deer Opener: Manager VanLeuven notified campers on the Soda Springs Unit that campfire restrictions have been lifted, checked for people camping in closed areas, and conducted an opening weekend hunter success survey. Manager VanLeuven distributed hard copies of the New Rules for Public Conduct on State Land to most of the camps on the Soda Springs Unit. Many of the visitors to the Klickitat Wildlife Area return annually to hunt; therefore, it is worthwhile to spend the time to make everyone aware of the new rules to be enforced next year. The deer survey results are as follows: Saturday October 11: 71 hunters contacted, 2 deer checked in camps: bucks; one 2 x 4 point, one 2 x 3 point; ages unknown. In addition, one doe and one 3-point buck were reported taken. Sunday October 12: 67 hunters contacted, 5 deer checked. The deer were all adults: three 3 x 3 point bucks, and one 3 x 4 point buck. In addition, one camp had a small female black bear. Two hunters reported seeing a feral pig in Sec 29 or 32 of T6N R14E, between WDFW land and the summit of Grayback Mountain. They noted the location by GPS.

The Washington Conservation Corps crew used a chipper to dispose of tree thinning debris in two campgrounds.
The Washington Conservation Corps crew used a chipper to dispose of tree thinning debris in two campgrounds.

WCC Crew: The Washington Conservation Corps crew used a rented 6 in. capacity chipper to dispose of tree thinning debris in two campgrounds. They chipped piles at Canyon Creek Loop Campground and at Leidl Park Campground. The work was hampered by a few mechanical problems and the piles that the crew were unable to chip due to time constraints were covered with sheets of plastic, to be burned in winter.


Modern Firearm Deer Season Opener: Biologist Holman operated a deer hunting check station at the primary entrance to the Weyerhaeuser-owned portions of Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal), in Clark County. Access to the tree farm is facilitated by volunteer members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club, who open and close the gates daily. Opening weekend saw mild weather conditions, lots of moonlight and therefore deer that weren't too active during daylight. A total of 384 hunters were checked with 5 blacktail bucks, 3 yearlings and 2 adults. In spite of the lack of deer, many good contacts were made with hunters inquiring about topics such as access, deer management, volunteer opportunities with the Sportsman's Club, where to get maps, various regulations, hunting recommendations, etc.

Opening day for duck hunting at Gray's Bay in Wahkiakum County
Opening day for duck hunting at Gray's Bay in Wahkiakum County
Opening day for duck hunting at Gray's Bay in Wahkiakum County

Duck Opener: Biologists Miller and Prince worked the duck hunting opening day at Gray's Bay in Wahkiakum County. Hunter numbers were down quite a bit from previous years but the hunters that did go out reported seeing lots of ducks. Bag was composed mainly of widgeon, which is a nice change from recent years when widgeon were not numerous in early season hunting. Bluebird weather made birds fly high and early. Low water conditions inland may have shifted widgeon to the rivers and bays along the Columbia. Migrant birds normally show up in November and hunting often slows after the opener until the flights from the north arrive.

October 20, 2008

Manager VanLeuven released pheasants with the WCC crew at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.
Manager VanLeuven released pheasants with the WCC crew at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.


Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Pheasant Release:
Manager VanLeuven released pheasants with the WCC crew at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit. A total of 190 birds were released at the three Klickitat County sites. The pheasants looked very healthy and had nice plumage. Volunteer Johnson helped coordinate the effort and transported and released birds with Chris Cerna, Department of Corrections and Bruce Ault (WDFW) also assisted with the release. This activity marked the end of the season for the Washington Conservation Corps and their work at the Klickitat Wildlife Area.

Hunter Surveys: Manager VanLeuven conducted hunter success surveys on the Soda Springs Unit and the survey results are as follows: Saturday, October 18: 66 hunters contacted, 3 deer checked. The deer were all bucks: one adult 3 x 3 point, one 3 x 4 point (age unknown), and one 3 x 2 point (age unknown). Hunters in one camp reported that two 3 point bucks had been taken by their group on Friday. These deer had been transported to a locker by the end of that day. Sunday, October 19: 31 hunters contacted, 0 deer checked. One hunter collected loose barbed wire near his camp for disposal by the wildlife area manager, which was appreciated.

Fewer campers were on the Klickitat Wildlife Area this year during the weekend surveys. Only about half the usual number of campers were seen, with many choice camping spots unoccupied. Traffic on the KWA roads was lighter also.


Packwood Public Meeting: Wildlife Program and Law Enforcement staff from Olympia and the Region held a public meeting in Packwood to have the opportunity for discussion with residents of the Packwood area regarding 2 of the 3-year hunting package proposals that have generated a lot of interest. Game Manager Ware facilitated the meeting and the public provided their thoughts on the issue as well as what they perceived as viable solutions to elk damage in the Cowlitz valley. The meeting was well attended with just under 200 people present; two dignitaries Representatives Alexander and Orcutt attended the meeting as well.


BirdFest: Biologists Anderson and Prince attended the annual BIRDFEST wildlife festival at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. WDFW set up a booth at the vendor/agency venue and both WDFW biologists assisted with field trips to observe sandhill cranes flying to and from their communal night roost. The weather was outstanding this year and up to 500 sandhill cranes were observed. In addition, an exceptionally large number of Canada geese, primarily cacklers, have arrived early this year at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Draft Wolf Conservation and Management Plan: Biologist Holman read and prepared comments on the Draft Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Those interested in learning more about the current status of wolves in Washington should visit the WDFW website at www.wdfw.wa.gov and select gray wolf conservation and management from the main page.

October 27, 2008


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Field Activities:
Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald recently finished planting several areas on the North Unit of the Wildlife Area with a cover crop of barley. These plantings are intended to provide early winter forage for Canada Geese. Lessees have now completed the harvest of their portion of corn crops on the South Unit, which should improve hunting conditions for Pheasant and also Canada Geese when the season opens in early November. Hauswald has now turned his efforts toward completing mowing of winter goose pasture sites on the North Unit and mowing reed canary grass in wetland basins in other parts of the Wildlife Area. The mowing of wintering waterfowl areas throughout the wildlife area is usually complete in early November but may be a bit later this year due to equipment problems earlier in the year.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Forage Maintenance and Enhancement:
Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald recently fertilized approximately 40 acres at two sites near the entrance to the Wildlife Area. The two sites are among several that have been identified for more intensive treatments to increase forage production for elk. Earlier this year both of these areas were treated with lime to improve soil ph and growing conditions. Volunteer Mike Braaten and Wayne Vance also fertilized a 25-acre site that they had replanted earlier this year near the eastern boundary of the Wildlife Area. Braaten and Vance also began work on a new project near the Bear Creek bridge by harrowing 20 acres to break up heavy moss and prepare it for liming and eventually seeding next spring.

Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins has collected clip plots from one of the elk forage sites where lime and fertilizer treatments have been applied over the past few years. Plots were also collected from an area that has not been treated for comparison. The objective is to get a general comparison of the two sites to determine any difference in total forage production due to the treatments. The results will not be known for a few weeks as the samples will be compared based upon dry weight and it will take some time for them to dry. Calkins also established two new photo points in an area where elk forage rehabilitation is about to begin, recording GPS locations so that they can be reliably replicated and recorded GPS information for another site that was established in 2007.

Conifer seedlings that were planted in the spring were also checked for survival. Of the 250 trees planted, 207 were located with 78 surviving. Although only 38 percent survived, this is an improvement over all of the past conifer plantings we have done on the site. Over time we have continued to adapt methods to establish these trees for erosion control on this site, which is difficult to work with. The improvement this year is most likely due to the use of a new style of 4 foot tall tree tube designed to not only protect the trees from grazing but also help to retain moisture for the plants.


Cougars, bears, and bobcats: Due to the amount of hunters afield during the ongoing modern firearm deer season, individuals arriving at the Region 5 office to have other species check has increased. Specifically, four bears, three cougars and a bobcat have been checked at the Region 5 headquarters within the past week. Various tooth, tissue, age, sex, location, tagging and other relevant harvest data were collected from the animals by a combination of Wildlife Program and Customer Service Staff.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Shillapoo/St. Helens Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Biologist Holman conducted a site visit to a potential habitat enhancement area for western pond turtles. The potential enhancement area is located at the western end of Beacon Rock State Park in Skamania County. The project would involve establishment of an approximately 2-3-acre pond that would complement existing on-site wetlands. Juvenile western pond turtles have been released at the site in 2007 and 2008, making them the newest of the State reintroduced populations. Initial inspection of the site looks favorable for wetland enhancement. Feasibility for the project will move into further steps involving evaluation of sub-surface water availability and topographic surveys.

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson met with the USFWS to evaluate a private parcel for a wetland habitat improvement project. The project is part of a NAWCA (wetland funding) grant proposal being submitted this winter. The private parcel is currently being used as sandhill crane foraging habitat and has the potential to be vastly improved with meadow and wetland enhancements.