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Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
September 2008

September 1, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Purple Loosestife:
Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald reports that it appears that progress is being made toward gaining control of Purple Loosestrife on all three units of the Wildlife Area. The wetland weed, which competes with desirable native plants, first became a real problem on the Wildlife Area following the 1996 floods, which probably transported seed into the area and temporarily reduced growth of competing vegetation resulting in prime conditions for the plant to establish and spread. Only a few years ago, 20-30 percent of our field time in the summer was being devoted to loostrife control, which increased dramatically in a one year period. A variety of control methods are being used, including introduction of biological controls, hand cutting, pulling, and spraying depending upon the situation at different control sites. This year Hauswald is only finding a few dozen plants each week in areas where we previously had been finding hundreds and far less time is being spent on the control efforts.

Skunkweed (Navarretia squarrosa)
Skunkweed (Navarretia squarrosa)

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
New "Weed:"
Even though WDFW tries to purchase the best alfalfa possible, one of the concerns Wildlife Area Manager Calkins has had following emergency winter feeding over the past two winters is the potential for introduction of new weeds into the Wildlife Area. As a result we have been paying particular attention to monitoring the area where feeding occurred. Two weeks ago he noticed a plant that he had seen only once before on the site known as skunkweed (Navarretia squarrosa). The Skunkweed plant is about 6" tall and has an odor similar to that of a skunk. From information we have received from various sources, the plant is native and somewhat common in parts of Washington. The previous sighting was a few years ago and only one plant was found and pulled. This year it appears that it is more widespread and associated with the roadway where hay was distributed during winter-feeding. Even though it is a native, it is uncertain whether it could potentially have an impact on areas managed for elk winter forage production. Because of this uncertainty, we will be beginning some control of the plant and monitoring closely in the future for any impacts it may have on winter range conditions.

Boundary Reconnaissance: With permit hunting seasons approaching on the Wildlife Area, Wildlife Area Manager Calkins is attempting to address one of the concerns that hunters voiced last season. Last year some of the hunters ranged further across the area in search of elk than previous years and had difficulty with the west boundary of the area in particular. Calkins hiked in to attempt to locate the northern most property corner west of the old N-1 dam but was unsuccessful in finding it. He found that the corner marker is probably missing due to either erosion or deposition of the North Fork Toutle River. A second trip will be made to mark the corner as closely as possible using GPS coordinates. With this technology we should be able to place signs demarking the boundary with very good accuracy. Despite not locating what he considered the most important marker, Calkins was able to locate five other corner markers and marked these with WDFW boundary signs.

Earlier this year a group of volunteers assisted us by locating boundary markers along 3 ½ to 4 miles of the North property line. The group was successful in locating at least 34 survey markers and recorded the GPS coordinates for each, which will be extremely helpful as we continue to make progress with upgrading the boundary posting on the area.

Sandhill crane survey and banding effort at Conboy Lake NWR.
Sandhill crane survey and banding effort at Conboy Lake NWR.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson reports that the final capture efforts for sandhill crane colts (juveniles) have been completed for 2008 at Conboy Lake NWR. Five of the seven banded 2008 colts are confirmed to have fledged. In addition, one unbanded colt was observed fledged from an unknown territory that escaped biologists’ detection. This year’s crane survey and banding effort was a success thanks to help from Jessica Stocking, WDFW temporary employee, that assisted with surveys and banding. Favorable water conditions from spring run-off have attributed to this year’s nesting success.

GAME DIVISION

South Mt. Rainier Elk Survey: This week Biologists Holman, Prince, and McCorquodale completed the South Mt. Rainier elk flight. This flight is conducted entirely within the Mt. Rainer National Park’s boundary and is part of a cooperative effort with the National Park Service, USGS, WDFW, and the Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes. The survey is conducted from a helicopter during the hours of 5-8pm. Elk are on a list of species that the Park Service is monitoring on a long-term basis and the USGS is tasked with developing a standard protocol for this monitoring effort. This was the first of three flights being done on the south side of Mt. Rainier this year to assist with refining this protocol. The Park Service and the Puyallup Tribe will complete the other two flights. The Park Service, WDFW, and Muckleshoot Tribe are conducting the north Rainier elk flights. The data collected from the South Rainier elk flight are summarized in the table below.

Spike Raghorn Mature Bulls Cows Calves TOTAL
BU:CO CA:CO
22:100 34:100
10 5 10 25 116 39 180

Mountain goat spotted during a WDFW aerial goat survey.
Mountain goat spotted during a WDFW aerial goat survey.

Mountain Goat Survey: Biologists Holman, Jonker, and Prince conducted aerial mountain goat surveys in Goat Rocks and Tatoosh this week. All surveys were conducted on one day due to favorable weather conditions. 285 goats were observed in Goat Rocks and only 5 in Tatoosh; however, these 5 were in the Mt. Rainier National Park’s boundary and thus were not counted as part of our effort. Of the 285 mountain goats seen in the Goat Rocks, 187 were adults, 25 yearlings, 64 kids, and 7 unknowns. These numbers yield a kid to adult ratio of 34:100

3-Year Hunting Season Setting Process: Regional Wildlife Program Staff and Game Management Division Staff held a public meeting associated with development of the 2009-11 Big Game Hunting Regulations. The meeting included detailed presentation and discussion of issues pertaining to the structure of hunting seasons on a State-wide level as well as locally. Efforts in the next several months will include compilation of internal and public input and finally generation of final proposals to be taken to the Commission. Those interested in participating in the season setting process are encouraged to take the 2009-11 season setting survey on the Hunting page of WDFW's website.

September 8, 2008

Swale Creek Unit Swale Creek Unit
Newly acquired Swale Creek Unit is primarily
upland grassland habitat, with shrubby riparian areas.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Swale Creek Unit:
Manager VanLeuven conducted a field visit to the newly acquired Swale Creek Unit. This unit is primarily upland grassland habitat, with shrubby riparian areas. Presence of survey markers, fence condition, wildlife and fish observed, habitat types, plant communities, road layout and access, weeds, water sources, etc. were all recorded. Manager VanLeuven observed 5 deer, 1 owl, many meadowlarks, 2 horned larks, and many small fish. Signs of beaver activity were noted in the same tributary of Swale Creek that hosted the fish. Swale Creek itself is dry where it runs through the WDFW parcel. Preliminary notes were taken on where a potential good parking area and public access route to the Klickitat Trail could be located adjacent to the Centerville Highway.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Habitat Enhancement: Biologist Holman completed a National Scenic Area application to explore the feasibility of wetland creation at Beacon Rock State Park. Located within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Beacon Rock State Park is the location of the most recent of WDFW's western pond turtle reintroduction efforts. The immediate project involves the placement of devices (piezometers), which measure the flow of water below the surface of the ground, to assess the possibility of wetland creation. Ultimately the creation of a 3-4 acre pond is desired to expand the suitable habitat available for this State Endangered species.

Master Hunter Boisfort Elk with deformed hoof
Master Hunter Boistfort particpated in the elk damage hunt in August where many hunter reported elk with deformed hooves, which could be symptomatic of hoof rot.

GAME DIVISION

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 twenty-two deer were located over the course of the 5-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.

August MH Elk Hunts: The focus of harvest in Elk Areas is to help reduce agricultural damage by elk on land owned by private landowners. Many Master Hunters participated in the elk damage hunts (e.g., Boistfort, Toledo) during the month of August. Hunters reported successful hunts although many hunters reported harvested elk with deformed hooves, which could be symptomatic of hoof rot.

September 15

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
WCC & Volunteer Work:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven continues to plan and coordinate a variety of work activities with volunteers, the WCC crew, and local birders. The WCC crew will be finishing up their season in October working on their fire hazard reduction project. Local bird watchers will be assisting in collecting Vaux's swift survey data at the Old Icehouse site. Volunteers may also be available to visit for a statewide survey effort as well.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Gray Squirrel: Biologist Anderson met with USFS and WDFW biologists to provide comment on a USFS forest enhancement project in the Majors Creek drainage, Columbia River Gorge. Years of fire suppression have caused Douglas fir trees to overtop oak/pine forests important to a variety of wildlife species, including the state threatened western gray squirrel. WDFW provided the USFS with our recommendations on timber harvest guidelines and protection of key western gray squirrel habitat components. We are encouraged that the USFS is taking this initiative to improve this unique oak/pine habitat in Klickitat County.

GAME DIVISION

2009-11 3-Year Season Setting Process / NGO Meetings: Biologist Holman presented the issues associated with the 3-year hunting season setting process to approximately 30 members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club. The club enjoyed the presentation and offered good input and general support for most WDFW proposals that are locally relevant. The Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club is an important local hunting-oriented organization. Having taken an active role in providing free public access to Weyerhaeuser lands in Clark County for 14 years, the group now conducts hunter education classes as well.

Training: Biologists Holman and Prince attended a wildlife chemical immobilization course in Spokane this week. The WDFW veterinarian and other WDFW specialists from around the state conducted the course. In the class, Holman and Prince learned proper techniques for immobilizing cougars, bears, deer, elk, moose, and raptors. They also learned about the different types of drugs and equipment used in wildlife immobilizations. These techniques can be used in research projects as well as responding to injured or nuisance wildlife. Other biologists and many WDFW law enforcement personnel also attended the training.

September 22

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Campground Ford:
Manager VanLeuven completed armoring the ford in the creek bed at Canyon Creek Loop Campground, as well as putting rock on the road approaching the ford. This brings the road into compliance with state law regarding fish habitat protection and takes care of one of the two most critical action items in the Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan for the Klickitat Wildlife Area. Two old signs were replaced at the ford, reaffirming "No Unauthorized Vehicles Beyond This Point" as this road is only kept open for WDFW management and fire access.

Volunteers: Manager VanLeuven met with the Goldendale chapter of Trout Unlimited. VanLeuven distributed volunteer sign-up forms to interested members of the group and read through the pertinent policies with them. Copies of the WDFW Volunteer Manual were provided to the group to circulate.

GAME DIVISION

Annual PR Reports: Biologists Anderson, Holman, Miller, and Prince completed the annual Pitman-Robertson Reports for bear, deer, mountain goats, and elk in Region 5. The reports summarize many aspects of Regional management for these species including: harvest, hunting effort, survey methods and results, population trends, habitat condition, etc. Those interested in researching WDFW game management activities as described in the PR reports can access an archive of these reports on the Hunting page of WDFW's website. The documents are available from 1998-2007 under the heading of Game Status and Trend Reports.

Deer/Elk Archery Season: Biologist Anderson reports that the deer and elk archery season to date in the south Cascades has been slow. Hot and dry conditions have prevailed through the first 3 weeks of the season and hunters report little movement of animals during the day. Hunter pressure has been low in the Wind River (574) unit and pressure is moderate to high in the southern half of the Lewis River (560) unit.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbia White Tail Deer Translocation: District Wildlife Biologist Miller spent part of the week securing supplies to update the animal flight bags for the Cowlitz tribe CWT deer relocation. USFWS paid for 12 bags and donated them to WDFW with the agreement that they would be used for future deer projects. The bags need updating on the restraining straps and lifting mechanism to transport the animals safely and ease operation for the crew. A vendor for the hardware was found and an order will be placed soon.

September 26, 2008

GAME DIVISION

Longview Elk: Region 5 Wildlife Program staff Jonker, Miller, Prince, and Enforcement officer Lantiegne met with administrative personnel from the city of Longview to discuss the recent 2009-11 hunting season package proposal to liberalize hunting in the Stella GMU. The issue of elk coming into Longview city was also discussed and it was decided that before any further action is taken within the city limits that we would get a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem (elk on roads, eating plants, on golf course, etc.). The city supported the new proposal to change the hunting regulations in Stella and, if this proposal is approved and implemented, they would like to meet again with WDFW after the first harvest season to reevaluate the situation and preliminary effectiveness of the regulation change.

Deer Surveys: Biologists Holman and Hauswald conduced a night spotlighting survey for deer in the Coweeman (550), Yale (554), and Toutle (556) Game Management Units. Limited forest openings and gated private forestland make deer surveys difficult in these areas and few deer were observed. Biologist Holman conducted a survey of deer in the East Klickitat (382) Game Management Unit. Hot weather kept most deer in the shade and survey results were poor. While conducting the above referenced deer surveys, Biologist Holman documented the location of a western toad in southern Cowlitz county and a burrowing owl in central Klickitat County.

Mt. St. Helens Advisory Committee: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker was invited by the Advisory Committee to present an overview of the management of the St. Helens Elk herd since the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Several presentations regarding the science occurring on Mt. St. Helens were presented by staff from a variety of organizations such as USFS, USGS, WDFW, US Army COE, etc. The Advisory Committee was formed at the request of U.S. Representative Brian Baird and Senator Maria Cantwell. The main purpose of forming the Committee is to provide recommendations about the future of the Mt. St. Helens national volcanic monument - including whether or not it should be transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Parks Service.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Clark County Wildlife Species Monitoring: Biologist Holman participated in the initiation of Clark County's Wildlife Species Monitoring program. In an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of habitat mitigation projects and implementation of the County Critical Areas Ordinance, Clark County has initiated an effectiveness monitoring program for wildlife. Using a network of volunteers from the community including those associated with the Audubon Society, Washington State University, and the Water Resources Education Center, the County intends to conduct long-term surveys of wildlife at various sites to investigate the effectiveness of their habitat improvement efforts. The project is also being done in conjunction with Clark Public Utilities at their enhancement sites and my eventually include locations associated with Clark-Vancouver Parks and the Port of Vancouver. Initial efforts will include continuation of amphibian monitoring work at County mitigation and wetland enhancement sites, conducting point-counts of avian species during breeding season, conducting wintering surveys of avian species, and following-up on any observations of the various State listed species including western pond turtles, mazama's pocket gophers, western gray squirrels, and gray-tailed voles.

Training: This week Biologist Prince attended New Employee Orientation in Olympia. The orientation included presentations from each of WDFW's program leaders (Fish, Enforcement, Wildlife, Habitat, and Business Admin). The afternoon sections included an overview of the retirement plans available and ethics training.