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
January 2009

January 26

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area: Range Plant Survey: Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven met with Jim Hill of Natural Resource Conservation Service to discuss implementation of a range plant survey project. This project is funded by a grant from the Coordinated Range Management program. The plan is to collect a new set of data at transects that were established in 1952 as part of a statewide range survey. This will give local information on long-term range trends. Trend information should be useful to range managers in Klickitat County. The Central Klickitat District of the Natural Resource Conservation Service will lead the project, and will be assisted by WDFW. Another meeting will be held next week to determine staffing and training needs.

WILDLIFE DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman collaborated to write a summary of activities related to the management of western pond turtles in the Columbia River Gorge for 2007 and 2008. The report details work activities associated with Bonneville Power Administration funding during the time span. The paper documents Head-Starting efforts, population augmentations, habitat enhancements, population monitoring efforts, etc. Two highlights from the two-year span include the reintroduction of western pond turtle juveniles into a fourth location in the Gorge and the release of the 1000th head-started juvenile. In addition, Biologist Anderson is initiating the scope of work and budget for next year*s funded western pond turtle project.

GAME MANAGMENT DIVISION

Hoof Rot: Biologist Prince sent five legs from three different elk to the Washington Animal Diagnostics Lab in Pullman this week. Three of the legs shipped had deformed hoofs and were showing obvious signs of hoof rot. Biologist Prince also did some "scouting" in western Lewis County for the upcoming hoof rot study. Two different groups of elk were seen; one numbering over forty and the other had just seven animals. Both groups contained multiple limping animals. Healthy groups of animals are also needed for the study to serve as controls; so further "scouting" will be required in the surrounding area.

WINTER CONDITIONS

District 10, including Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:

  • Past Weather: Weather conditions in November and early December were extremely mild and warm. It was not until mid-December that we experienced our first winter storms, which resulted in very cold temperatures and near record snowfall in some areas. Snow depths varied between drainages. For example, snow depths in the Lewis drainage were much deeper than in the adjacent Toutle watershed. The series of storms lasted over a week but conditions have since moderated. Warm temperatures and heavy rains occurred during the first part of January causing rapid snow melt in the South Cascades; raising some streams above flood stage. We have seen dry conditions since with moderate temperatures and continued snowmelt. Rivers continue to recede slowly.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for seasonable conditions through the end of next week, including a cold snap over the weekend through Monday. Moderate levels of precipitation mixed with clear skies are expected with snow levels ranging from below 1000 to above 4,000 feet. Temperatures should range from the low 20's to mid-50's, which is a below average.

    The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation. The 8-14 day outlook for Washington is for near normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: No Change. The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps issued on January 15th show below average temperatures and above average precipitation for February. The Feb-April outlook map also suggests below average temperatures but normal precipitation. The Mar-May map shows equal chances of either above or below normal temperature and precipitation.
  • Habitat: The Wildlife Area is snow free except for small patches where drifts had been deeper in early January. Based on observations on 01/23, there is still forage available on the Wildlife Area. North facing slopes are generally snow free to 2000 feet and south facing slopes to as high as 3000 feet.

    A general assessment of flood damage was conducted this week on-site. Recent flooding caused erosion along most of the edge of the mudflow causing some additional forage habitat losses. In some localized areas the river cut in as much as 50 feet.
  • Snow Depths: Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 0.3 in.; June Lake (3,340 feet): 67.6 in.; Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 61.5 in.; Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 35.1. Depth has decreased at all these sites over the past week.
  • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): No report; Johnson Creek (2400 ft): No report; Wakepish (2,800 feet): No report; Cougar (2,200 feet): 4' according to 1/23 report; Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): 5+' according to 1/23 report.
  • Animal Concentrations: No formal surveys since 270 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area during a count on 01/09. No reports of unusual concentrations of animals have been received in other areas.
  • Animal Condition: While on the Wildlife Area on 01/23, the majority of the animals observed appeared to be in good condition, with a few animals that appeared thin and/or had rough pelage.
  • Mortality: None reported.
  • Public Contacts: No new contacts to report.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Very dry and warm weather through the first half of December, followed by roughly two-weeks of unseasonably cold and snowy weather during the second half of December. Moderated conditions through January - cool days, cold nights, very dry.
  • Short-term forecast: Return to warmer, wetter weather that may bring minor snowfall to southwest Cascades
  • Snow Depth: Snow depth in the southwestern Cascades has moderated from 4-5 feet following the December storms to 2-3 feet following significant warm rainfall and some flooding. At lower elevations (below 1000'), most areas are now snow-free. The Klickitat Wildlife Area has lost most of its snow and conditions are favorable.
  • Habitat: Still primarily snow-covered above 1500'.
  • Animal Concentrations: Both elk and deer concentrated at lower-elevation portions of their range.
  • Animal Condition: Weakened deer have begun to succumb; elk likely still have reserves available. No reports from Klickitat Wildlife Area of animals in poor condition.
  • Mortality: No additional mortalities reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: No additional contacts this week.

January 19, 2009

WILDLIFE DIVERSITY DIVISION

Wetland Project: NAWCA Grant - Biologist Anderson met with Columbia Land Trust and members of the Bonaham family to discuss conservation projects in the Panakanic Valley of Klickitat County. The Bonaham's own approximately 250 acres of prime wetland and upland meadows currently being used by sandhill cranes. The goal of the meeting was to discuss future family desires for management of the land and to include conservation as part of their plan. The family is open to potential conservation easements for development rights and would consider habitat improvement for nesting sandhill cranes.

Columbian White-tailed Deer: Biologist Prince assisted with DNA collection from Columbian White-tailed deer on Julia Butler Hansen Refuge this week. Darts specially designed to collect these samples were used. The dart hits the animal and then bounces off with a small sample of tissue lodged in the tip of the dart. The samples are being collected as part of an effort to determine how similar the JBH deer are to the Roseburg, OR population and to also determine if any breeding between black-tailed deer and the Columbian white-tails takes place.

Flood Impacts to CWTD: USFWS report that most of the CWTD have left the JBH refuge in Cathlamet. In a recent survey, only 3 deer were observed. Groups of deer have been observed off refuge to the north. In the 1996 flood the deer left the refuge and did not come back after the waters receded. Biologist will continue survey efforts to monitor the return of the deer as the refuge dries out.

Camera Surveys: District Wildlife Biologist Miller assisted refuge personnel to establish camera-monitoring stations on the islands in the Columbia River this week. The cameras aid in the population survey effort to identify subspecies of deer on the islands when FLIR surveys are flown.

Post-season Buck to Doe Ratio
Post-season Buck to Doe Ratio
Click image to enlarge

GAME MANAGMENT 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 700 deer were classified with a combination of aerial and ground surveys employed. Please see the graph at right summarizing the post-season deer survey results from 2003 through 2008 in these two important Region 5 GMUs. Note that although located in Region 5, and containing 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 GMUs 388 and 382 in future years.

Hoof Rot Study: Biologist Prince picked up four legs from two different elk from Law Enforcement this week. The legs were put into the freezer and will be sent to the lab for analysis next week. A WDFW LE officer dispatched one of the cows because the animal was very emaciated and not able to stand; the hoofs were deformed and showed signs of hoof rot. The other cow was harvested in a Wildwood damage hunt. The elk was observed limping, but the hoofs do not show any obvious signs of disease. Region 5 will begin its formal hoof rot study in March.

WINTER CONDITIONS

District 10, including Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:

  • Past Weather: Weather conditions in November and early December were extremely mild and warm. It was not until mid-December that we experienced our first winter storms, which resulted in very cold temperatures and near record snowfall in some areas. Snow depths varied between drainages. For example, snow depths in the Lewis drainage were much deeper than in the adjacent Toutle watershed. The series of storms lasted over a week but conditions have since moderated. Warm temperatures and heavy rains occurred during the first part of January causing rapid snow melt in the South Cascades raising some streams above flood stage. We have seen dry conditions since with moderate temperatures and continued snowmelt. Rivers continue to recede slowly. Temperature inversions over the past week have resulted in warmer conditions at higher elevations than in the lower lying valleys.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for continued dry conditions through the middle of next week. There is some chance of precipitation beginning Wednesday or Thursday with snow levels above 4,000 feet. Valley temperatures should range from the low 30's to near 50, which is near the normal condition for the time period.

    The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for below average temperatures and below average precipitation. The 8-14 day outlook for Washington is for below average temperatures and below average precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps issued on January 15th, show below average temperatures and above average precipitation for February. The Feb-April outlook map also suggests below average temperatures but normal precipitation. The Mar-May map shows equal chances of either above or below normal temperature and precipitation.
  • Habitat: No new direct observations on the wildlife area this week. The site should be snow free now. Due to conflicts with other work we have been unable to assess any flood damage on the ground this week. The Toutle has continued to recede and is reaching near normal levels for this time of year at the Tower Rd. gauge.
  • Snow Depths: Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 6.8 in., June Lake (3,340 feet): 69.7 in., Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 66.3 in., Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 35.4 in. Depth has decreased at all these sites over the past week.
  • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): 24' on 1/12, Johnson Creek (2400 ft): unknown on 1/12, Wakepish (2,800 feet): unknown due to inaccessibility, Cougar (2,200 feet) 5+' according to 1/13 report, Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): 7+' according to 1/13 report.
  • Animal Concentrations: No surveys since 270 elk were observed on the wildlife area during a count on 01/09, which continues to be at a much lower level than we have seen in recent years. No reports of unusual concentrations of animals have been received in other areas.
  • Animal Condition: With the exception of the animal noted below, animals that we have been able to observe closely appear to be in good health. No obvious outward signs of physical decline have been noted.
  • Mortality: To date we have not seen any winter kill animals and have not yet received any reports from members of the public or other sources. Law Enforcement did dispatch an elk near the wildlife area on private property that was in poor condition and appeared to be have symptoms of hoof rot.
  • Public Contacts: Responded to an information request from Representative Orcutt.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Very dry and warm weather through the first half of December, followed by roughly two-weeks of unseasonably cold and snowy weather during the second half of December.
  • Short-term forecast: Extended period of warm, moderate weather. Highs are forecasted for 50+ degrees with lows above freezing. Little precipitation in forecast.
  • Snow Depth: Snow depth in the southwestern Cascades has moderated from 4-5 feet following the December storms to 2-3 feet following significant warm rainfall and some flooding. At lower elevations (below 1000'), most areas are now snow-free. The Klickitat Wildlife Area has lost most of its snow and conditions are favorable.
  • Habitat: Still primarily snow-covered above 1500'.
  • Animal Concentrations: Both elk and deer concentrated at lower-elevation portions of their range.
  • Animal Condition: Weakened deer have begun to succumb; elk likely still have reserves available. No reports from Klickitat Wildlife Area of animals in poor condition.
  • Mortality: One report of a dead fawn and one report of a dead elk calf. No mortality reports at the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
  • Public Contacts: No additional contacts this week.

January 12, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area: Winter Monitoring: Biologists Miller and Prince conducted an additional count of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on January 9th to assess the situation after the weather events. 270 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area, which continues to be at a much lower level than we have seen in recent years. Small groups of elk were also observed along the SR 504 corridor. The attached photos illustrate the different conditions.

x x x x
An elk count was conducted to assess the situation after the recent weather events. These photos illustrate the different conditions.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area-South Unit: Unlawfully Baited Field
Shillapoo Wildlife Area-South Unit - Unlawfully Baited Field
Click image to enlarge

Shillapoo Wildlife Area: Unlawfully Baited Field: Assistant Manager Hauswald noticed a cornfield early in the week in which an unknown party had purposely knocked down over 5,000 square feet of standing corn and scattered some of the corn to the center of the field. After notifying Law Enforcement of the situation, Officer Hart concurred that the field is considered baited due to the unlawful scattering of corn to attract waterfowl. The field was posted "NO HUNTING IN THIS FIELD DUE TO SCATTERING OF BAIT--UNLAWFULLY BAITED AREA*, and will remain closed until all the scattered corn is gone.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area: Spears Mill Pond Recharge Project: The millpond on the Spears Unit has been losing water due to evapotranspiration for quite some time. This millpond provides deep-water habitat for wintering waterfowl and is the main reason this property was purchased. Historically, the mill maintained water levels by drafting from nearby Siler Creek. The infrastructure is still evident so it was believed that a water right existed. Lands agent Chuck Leidy was put to task to research whether a water right existed and it was established that a surface water right is in effect as is a storage / impoundment permit. AHB Scott Brummer was contacted to determine what provisions needed to be put in place to protect fish while exercising the water right to recharge the millpond. For administrative purposes, a JARPA was completed and submitted to Scott Brummer. We will begin working on this project as soon as weather allows us to access the site.

Snow accumulations at the Wildlife Area and the headquarters building.
Snow accumulations at the Wildlife Area and the headquarters building.
Snow accumulations at the Wildlife Area and the headquarters building.

Snow Accumulations: The winter storm deposited quite the snow accumulations at the Wildlife Area and the headquarters building lost a gutter and had a broken water line.

Tacoma Recreational Information: Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday at 1-888-502-8690.

WILDLIFE DIVERSITY DIVISION

Flooding Impacts Colombian White tailed deer (CWTD): The lowland flooding this week is causing serious problems for the CWTD at Cathlamet. Water crossing the Highway inundated the Refuge and the deer were forced to stay long the dikes and roadways. In prior floods of this magnitude, deer starved to death and were hit by cars on SR 4. The USFWS has worked with Wahkiakum County to close the road along the Elochoman River to reduce stress on the deer. As of Friday, 1 fawn was hit and killed on SR 4. Refuge personnel are distributing supplemental feed in hopes the deer will utilize it. The floodwaters will drain out via a system of ditches and tide gates. WDFW biologists will be working closely with the USFWS on this situation.

Mid Winter Waterfowl: Biologist Anderson completed the mid winter waterfowl survey from Bonneville Dam to the John Day Dam. Difficult weather conditions early in the week made surveying slower than normal. Final count results have not been completed but it appears that large numbers of waterfowl were using the Columbia River this year.

Biologist Holman completed the mid-winter waterfowl survey from the mouth of the Washougal River, up the Columbia to Bonneville dam. The results of the survey tallied: 1,833 ducks (primarily scaup on the Columbia River), 247 Canada geese (mostly westerns), and 113 tundra swans. This year's survey included nearly identical numbers of ducks but fewer geese as compared to the 2008 survey. Those interested in viewing the tundra swans on Franz Lake can expect to find the birds as they have regularly been using this habitat recently and 82 individuals were identified there during the survey. Additional species present at Franz Lake included canvasbacks, mallards, ring-necked ducks, goldeneyes, and buffleheads.

Biologist Prince conducted mid-winter waterfowl surveys in western Lewis County this week. Most routes were completed; however, recent flooding events are causing a few to be postponed until the weekend. There is plenty of water available for waterfowl right now, but the earlier cold weather may have caused an earlier than normal continuation south for the birds. Some routes have a lot of available water, but bird numbers seem to be lower than in the past. One spot of interest is the pond at the water treatment plant in Centralia, off of Goodrich Rd; over a thousand widgeon, 200 pintails, and trumpeter swans were seen there.

WINTER CONDITIONS

District 10, including Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:

  • Past Weather: Weather conditions in November and early December were extremely mild and warm. It was not until mid-December that we experienced our first winter storms, which resulted in very cold temperatures and near record snowfall in some areas. Snow depths varied between drainages. For example, snow depths in the Lewis drainage were much deeper than in the adjacent Toutle watershed. The series of storms lasted over a week but conditions have begun to moderate. Warm temperatures and heavy rains occurred over the past week, causing rapid snow melt in the South Cascades and raising some streams above flood stage.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for some rain over the weekend with snow levels ranging from 2000 to 6000 feet. Little precipitation is expected next week. Valley temperatures should range from the low 30's to near 50.

    The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation. The 8-14 day outlook for Washington is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: No Change. The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps show equal chances of either above or below average temperatures and precipitation for January. The Jan-Mar and Feb-Apr. maps indicate a heightened chance of below average temperatures throughout the state but equal chances of either above or below average precipitation.
  • Habitat: Only patches of snow remain at the east end of the Wildlife Area and during the survey this week it was apparent that forage still remained on the mudflow and most elk observed were feeding at the time.
  • There was only a skiff of snow at 2500 feet, which would not preclude access to forage. Areas below that elevation are predominantly snow free.

    Although the recent flood event has caused erosion concerns again, it appears that the impact may be relatively minor even though the flows have not yet returned to normal levels. We will have a better idea of the full impact next week when the river settles down.
  • Snow Depths: Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 11.2 in., June Lake (3,340 feet): 74.6 in., Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 72.6 in., Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 39.6 in. Depth has decreased at all these sites over the past week.
  • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): 24' on 1/5, Johnson Creek (2400 ft): inaccessible on 1/5, Wakepish (2,800 feet): unknown due to inaccessibility, Cougar (2,200 feet) unknown due to inaccessibility, Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): unknown due to inaccessibility.
  • Animal Concentrations: 270 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area during a count on January 09, which continues to be at a much lower level than we have seen in recent years. Small groups of elk were also observed along the SR 504 corridor.
  • Animal Condition: Animals that we have been able to observe closely appear to be in good health. No obvious outward signs of physical decline have been noted.
  • Mortality: To date we have not seen any winter kill animals and have not yet received any reports from members of the public or other sources.
  • Public Contacts: We have spoken with the individual leading the private feeding effort near Swift Reservoir. He indicated that he was going to continue. Longview Daily News and The Columbian both printed stories about the current status of winter conditions, elk, and the emergency winter-feeding decision process based on our past reports and staff interviews.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Very dry and warm weather through the first half of December, followed by roughly two-weeks of unseasonably cold and snowy weather during the second half of December.
  • Short-term forecast: Extended period of warm, moderate weather. Highs are forecasted for 50+ degrees with lows above freezing. Little precipitation in forecast.
  • Snow Depth: Snow depth in the southwestern Cascades has moderated from 4-5 feet following the December storms to 2-3 feet following significant warm rainfall and some flooding. At lower elevations (below 1000'), most areas are now snow-free. The Klickitat Wildlife Area has lost most of its snow and conditions are favorable.
  • Habitat: Still primarily snow-covered above 1500'.
  • Animal Concentrations: Both elk and deer concentrated at lower-elevation portions of their range.
  • Animal Condition: Weakened deer have begun to succumb; elk likely still have reserves available. No reports from Klickitat Wildlife Area of animals in poor condition.
  • Mortality: Four reports of deer mortalities; two post-rut bucks and two hairloss fawns. No mortality reports at the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
  • Public Contacts: Several members of the public have contacted us regarding concentrations of elk and the previously noted deer mortalities.

January 5, 2009

The western portion of the mudflow (at left) was almost snow free at the time of the survey but snow covered most of the eastern portion of the site (at right). The western portion of the mudflow (at left) was almost snow free at the time of the survey but snow covered most of the eastern portion of the site (at right).
The western portion of the mudflow (at left) was almost snow free at the time of the survey but snow covered most of the eastern portion of the site (at right).

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area: Winter Elk Count: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald conducted a count of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on December 30th and assessed winter range conditions in the vicinity. Weather conditions were ideal and a total of 282 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area during the survey from the Weyerhaeuser Forest Learning Center. The western portion of the mudflow was almost snow free at the time of the survey but snow covered most of the eastern portion of the site. The photos illustrate the different conditions. A brief visit to the western portion of the wildlife area revealed that there is still natural forage available on the ground and elk that were observed at close range appeared to be in good condition. South facing slopes above the Wildlife Area and to the west also had forage available and many open areas were almost snow free up to about 1500 feet in elevation. Snow depth above this point was variable due to drifting and melting conditions. Some locations had up to one foot of snow cover up to about 2500 feet but some patches were only covered with 1-2 inches of snow that had fallen the night before. Small groups of elk were seen resting or feeding along the Highway 504 corridor from Silver Lake up to about the 2000 foot elevation and these animals also appeared to be in good condition.

WILDLIFE DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Gray Squirrels: Biologist Anderson initiated contacts in the Underwood area of Skamania for future western gray squirrel surveys. This particular area has not been formally surveyed for several years and it is unclear as to the current distribution of this state threatened species in this area. Of specific concern is the increase in the eastern gray squirrel population in this area and how the two species are currently overlapping in available habitat. The USFS has agreed to fund a portion of the surveys due to development concerns in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

GAME MANAGMENT DIVISION

Region 5 Post-Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman and Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven conducted an aerial survey of the post-hunting season deer herd in GMU 388 (Grayback). The survey conditions were good with relatively clear skies, little wind and a largely snow-covered backdrop for the effort. Initial results appear promising and a summary of this-year's post-season deer surveys in the Grayback and East Klickitat Game Management Units will be the topic of a future weekly report.

SW Washington Canada Goose Season Area 2a: The Canada goose hunting season in Area 2A continues. Through the end of December, the hunt has offered average success per hunter among those checking geese at check stations, though overall hunting effort and harvest is considerably higher than that of recent years. Collectively the State-operated hunter check stations located at Vancouver, Ridgefield Marina, Woodland, and Cathlamet, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service station at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge reported a total of 998 hunters having harvested a total of 2034 geese. This makes an average of 2.0 birds per hunter among those who brought geese to the check stations. The total harvest of geese is nearly double the sum for this time-period in 2007. However, this number is somewhat inflated by the fact that snow and greater white-fronted geese are now included in the tally where they weren't in years prior.

Goose season continues on the 3-days per week schedule (Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday) until January 25th 2009. Those interested in participating in the Area 2A goose hunt are encouraged to review the special requirements that are detailed in the Waterfowl Hunting Pamphlet. The special seasons in 2A are designed to protect populations of the dusky Canada goose.

Region Five Deer Productivity Survey Results
Region Five Deer Productivity Survey Results
1995-2008
Region Five Estimated Fawn:Doe Ratio
Region Five Estimated Fawn: Doe Ratio
1995-08 - W 90% C.I.
Click chart for enlargement

Region 5 Deer Herd Composition Surveys: Biologist Holman compiled the black-tail and mule deer herd composition surveys that have been completed in Region 5 during 2008. The surveys are conducted annually during the period beginning August 15 and continuing through September 30th. These data are used to estimate the annual ratio of fawns to does throughout the Region. This productivity data is then used as one of the inputs into the Region's Sex - Age - Kill method of population estimation. The 2008 effort involved the classification of 750 deer and resulted in a fawn to doe ratio of 36:100. The 2008 ratio of 36 fawns per 100 does represents a return to poor productivity in Region 5, following the difficult winter of 2007-08.

Wildlife Program Staff along with volunteers actively conducted surveys as well as documenting any deer seen during other work (or play) activities during this time period. Thanks to all those that helped out with the deer surveys, especially the members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club and employees and contractors for SDS, ORM, and Sierra Pacific timber companies, as well as U.S. Forest Service Staff. Please see the attached figure detailing the fawn to doe ratio and number of deer included in the effort from 1995-2008.

WINTER CONDITIONS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:

  • Past Weather: Weather conditions in November and early December were extremely mild and warm. It was not until mid-December that we experienced our first winter storms, which resulted in very cold temperatures and near record snowfall. The series of storms lasted over a week but conditions have begun to moderate. As of December 30, snow had melted off most of the western portion of the Wildlife Area and patches of ground on the east end were almost snow free. Additional melting followed by snow has occurred since that time.
  • Short-term forecast: Temperatures over the next week are expected to range from the high 20's to low 40's. Rain (or snow) is expected throughout the forecast but probably at moderate levels. Snow levels will range from below 1,000 up to 6,000 feet.

    The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for above average temperatures and above average precipitation. The 8-14 day outlook for Washington is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps show equal chances of either above or below average temperatures and precipitation for January. The Jan-Mar and Feb-Apr. maps indicate a heightened chance of below average temperatures throughout the state but equal chances of either above or below average precipitation.
  • Habitat: Based on an observation on December 30 near the western end of the wildlife area, there is still a considerable amount of herbaceous forage on the mudflow. This may be attributable to the low numbers of elk on the site during the fall period and the recent snow cover. To avoid disturbing the herd we did not venture far enough into the site to evaluate use of browse type forage, however; usage rates of these plants can presumed to be high during the recent snow event.

    Open south slopes below 1500 feet were almost snow free and similar conditions also existed within some conifer stands. Habitat condition within a portion of the commercial forests where thinning has occurred within the past few years is improving. The increased light penetration has allowed natural understory plants that produce forage to reestablish.

    Some minor erosion of winter forage area has occurred again this year, however; is at least partially offset by two forage enhancement projects that were completed in the fall. Our greatest concern with erosion at this time is that the only road on the wildlife area is now directly threatened in the middle of its length. Should the roadway be impacted, it would limit or preclude our ability to do any work at the east end of the Wildlife Area.
  • Snow Depths: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 21.4 in., June Lake (3,340 feet): 92.8 in., Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 80.9 in., Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 50.7 in.
  • Animal Concentrations: Two counts of elk on the site have occurred to date. Thirty-three elk were observed on 12/08 and 282 were present on 12/30. Small groups of elk were observed in forest lands above the Wildlife Area and also along the SR 504 corridor from Silver Lake to the 2,000 foot elevation marker.
  • Animal Condition: Animals that we have been able to observe closely appear to be in good health. No obvious outward signs of physical decline were noted.
  • Mortality: To date we have not seen any winter kill animals and have not yet received any reports from members of the public or other sources.
  • Public Contacts: We have heard from both parties that sponsored private winter-feeding operations in the Mt. St. Helens vicinity last year who were concerned with the conditions last month. Based on these conversations we believe that both are feeding elk again (off of SR 504 and in the vicinity of Swift Reservoir). Inquiries as to the current status have also been received from Representative Orcutt and the Longview Daily News.

December 29, 2008

x x
Manager VanLeuven continues clearing snow accumulation at the KWA headquarters to keep it open for public access.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area Snow: Manager VanLeuven continues clearing snow accumulation at the KWA headquarters to keep it open for public access.

WILDLIFE DIVERSITY DIVISION

Wetland Enhancement: Biologist Anderson met with the Underwood Conservation District to discuss potential wetland enhancement projects in Klickitat County. This effort is enhanced by the current proposal being submitted to NAWCA for additional wetland and oak habitat work in the Columbia River Gorge. WDFW and the Underwood Conservation District are focusing current efforts in the Rattlesnake Creek drainage, which has a variety of special wildlife species including nesting sandhill crane habitat.

GAME MANAGMENT DIVISION

Winter Conditions: The Columbia River Gorge has recently experienced high snow accumulations especially at lower elevations down to sea level. Deer have been seen in small groups foraging on exposed shrubs. Elk are scarce and few are visible as most are probably in deep cover. Currently snow is light and with colder weather, deer appear to be able to travel easily with little ice or crust built up above ground level.