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Guy Norman

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
July 2009

July 27, 2009

Western Pong Turtle
Western pong turtle
Western pong turtle
The annual releases of head-started juvenile western pond turtles are significant milestones in the management of the species.
Peregrine cliffs
Region 5 biologists investigated a report of peregrines on a previously unused cliff along the Lower Columbia River.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Post Harvest Tour: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven and Department of Natural Resources District Manager Stocks toured the North Beeks Timber area that was selectively harvested in 2007. Specifically, sites were visited that had concentrations of squirrel nests. It appeared that important western gray squirrel habitat had been protected according to standard guidelines. The biggest, old douglas fir trees that supported nests at the time of previous surveys conducted by manager Van Leuven still had nests, and several showed evidence of very recent use by squirrels. In addition, a couple nests that probably were built after the timber harvest were observed as well.

Fuel Reduction: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven checked progress on a fuels reduction project at Leidl Park Campground. A Department of Natural Resources crew has been working on this project and some of the work was very nicely done. The WCC crew will be chipping the piles of limbs starting next week.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle: Western Pond Turtle Management / Environmental Education. Biologist Holman partnered with Oregon Zoo Conservation Division Manager David Shepherdson and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Manager Jim Clapp to conduct a day of environmental education and outreach centered on the annual release of western pond turtles at the Pierce Unit of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Biologist Holman discussed western pond turtles in general, the head-start program, the western pond turtle recovery goals, etc., and fielded questions regarding this State Endangered species. Additionally, older western pond turtles (from prior releases) and western painted turtles were captured for display during the event. In excess of 75 children / students were in attendance. Grade-school-aged children (Skamania County Gorge Explorers), Skamania Youth Success Program, students associated with the Americorps Program, participants in the Federal Youth Conservation Corps, and interns and students associated with the Portland Zoo made up most of the participants. Crew leaders and associated agency leads along with media folks pushed the number in attendance to around 100.

The annual releases of head-started juvenile western pond turtles are significant milestones in the management of the species. 2009 marks the tenth year of releases at the Pierce Refuge site. Concurrent with the release at Pierce Refuge, Biologist Anderson facilitated the release of head-started pond turtles at Beacon Rock State Park. 2009 marks the third year of releases at Beacon Rock. Additional animals were also released at the Sondino Ponds and Bergen Road western pond turtle sites.

Personnel from the Portland Zoo and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gathered video and still photographs as well as conducting interviews during the event. This material was passed on to KATU television (Portland channel 2), and text from their report is available on-line (http://www.katu.com/news/51320542.html).

Peregrine Falcons: Region 5 biologists investigated a report of peregrines on a previously unused cliff along the Lower Columbia River. While there, one peregrine was seen flying through the area, but it made no stops at cliff being observed. Many eagles were also seen using the area around and above the cliff. There have been new sightings of falcons along the Lower Columbia in the past couple of years using cliffs that descend directly into the river. This site will be checked next breeding season for activity

GAME DIVISION

Operation Dark Goose: All of the geese that were radio-collared during this year's banding effort were monitored this week. The geese are all still active and alive and still in the vicinity of Miller Sands Island. They will continue to be monitored as opportunity exists and if not harvested during the hunting season, they will help aid in locating dark birds to band next year.

July 20, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Davis Lake 3-Acre Forage Field Rehabilitation: The CWA staff has been working on rehabilitating a 3-acre forage field / timber clearing; the field was likely used for pasturing animals historically and was almost entirely engulfed in blackberry when the project to rehabilitate this forage field began approximately 4 years ago. To date the blackberry is approximately 80 percent eradicated and this week staff were able to mow the field. The field will be monitored throughout the summer and will likely be sprayed again later this year if blackberry returns. Other broadleaf weeds such as thistle species have been targeted as well.

Trout Hatchery – Brim Bar High Flow Channel Restoration: Wildlife Area and Department staff met on sight with members of the Cowlitz Tribe of Indians, Tacoma Power, and Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group to discuss progress on the habitat restoration project. This project will include connectivity of the channel to the main-stem of the Cowlitz River, the placement of woody debris, and creation of multiple pools. Final engineered plans should be available in November from the environmental engineering firm of Inter-Fluve.

WCC crew working on Units 1 and 3; the standing trees were selected for retention, the culled trees appear as slash in the foreground.
WCC crew working on Units 1 and 3; the standing trees were selected for retention, the culled trees appear as slash in the foreground.
WCC crew working on Units 1 and 3; the standing trees were selected for retention, the culled trees appear as slash in the foreground.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Oak Habitat Enhancement: The Wildlife Area manager worked with the WCC crew and a private contractor (who provided the chipper and an operator) to complete the chipping of oak slash on two of the three oak thinning units. All of the work involving power equipment on these thinning units is now done. The photos at right depict the WCC crew working on Units 1 and 3; the standing trees were selected for retention, the culled trees appear as slash in the foreground.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Streaked Horn Lark Surveys: Biologist Miller assisted USFWS and TNC in conducting surveys for larks on dredge material islands in the lower Columbia River. While out, Miller also investigated a new falcon eyrie report. No falcons were observed. TNC is evaluating a technique to improve lark habitat on dredge islands that have heavy ground cover established by disking to expose sand. Some impacts to other species have been noted; geese shifted nesting locations on Miller Sands Spit in response to the change in ground cover.

Western Pond Turtle: Field telemetry to locate nesting western pond turtles has ended for this year. The field crew headed by Biologist Slavens has located 20 turtles nests which should yield approximately 100 hatchlings for release in the summer of 2010. Bullfrog egg mass removal will continue for another two weeks, with 30 egg masses removed so far.

Juvenile head start turtles from 2008 will be released in the Columbia River Gorge this week. The release will take place at Pierce National Wildlife Refuge and will be covered by the media.

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson is completing surveys for several peregrine falcon nesting territories in the Columbia River Gorge. At least two sites have young that have just fledged from their nest sites in the last couple weeks. Biologist Anderson got lucky and caught a photo of one of the juveniles perched on a cliff over the river.

Peregrin falcon
Juvenile Peregrine falcon

Band-tailed Pigeon Population Monitoring: Biologist Holman completed the Band-tailed pigeon survey at the Kalama River mineral spring site. Three-hundred-seventeen pigeons arrived at the site during the survey. The survey results are similar to last year's when 350 of the birds were documented using the site.

Band-tails are monitored annually at mineral sites throughout Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service compiles this data for the continent and thus evaluates the status of the population. Recent trends in the population are positive. Those interested in hunting band-tails are reminded that special certification is required to do so. Check the Migratory Game Bird / Small Game hunting pamphlet when it becomes available near the end of August for details.

GAME DIVISION

Dark goose: Radio collar geese in the vicinity of Miller Sands were checked while out on the Lark survey: all radios were operational and the birds were still in the general location of capture.

July 13, 2009

Elk
Columbian white-tailed deer
Columbian white-tailed deer
Elk and Columbian white-tailed deer images captured from cameras set on lower Columbia River islands
Operation Dark Goose
Operation Dark Goose: The capture and banding of geese in the lower Columbia took place this week.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson conducted follow-up sandhill crane nesting surveys in with the USFWS in Klickitat County. Most cranes have completed nesting and several pairs currently have colts (juvenile birds). In addition, a total of 5 juveniles have been banded this year as part of the breeding season survey. Water levels have been stable on Conboy Refuge this spring and summer, contributing to the success of several nesting pairs.

Columbian White Tailed Deer: Biologist Miller and volunteer Howell collected 4 cameras from lower Columbia River islands. The task was complicated by dense vegetation and a vigorous mosquito hatch. These cameras record images of wildlife and help the CWTD managers determine what percentage of deer are the endangered white tails or are the black tail variety. We found one camera set that recorded a bull elk on one of the Oregon islands, which was a bit of a surprise. The cameras also allow biologists to get a bit of information on animal condition, note the hair loss syndrome on the picture of a buck.

GAME DIVISION

Band-Tailed Pigeon Surveys: Surveys of band-tailed pigeons arriving at mineral sites have been initiated in Region 5. 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.

Biologist Holman completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Cedar Creek Wildlife Area site. A total of 163 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, but within the normal range of detections.

July 6, 2009

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Peregrine Falcon Monitoring: Biologist Holman teamed with Pacificorps Biologist Emmerson to investigate a suspected falcon eyrie near Yale reservoir. Emmerson had witnessed a pair of falcons defending a cliff face earlier in the spring and suspected a nesting pair. On the follow up visit, however, only one adult falcon was observed and documentation of a nesting location is not possible at this time.

GAME DIVISION

Operation Dark Goose: The capture and banding of geese in the lower Columbia took place this week. The target geese resemble the Dusky subspecies and the collar and banding effort is focused on marking dark birds that should not be counted as Duskys at check stations. A total of 181 birds were caught and 73 were the dark birds. Region 5 would like to thank Don Kraege, Joe Evenson, Bryan Murphie, and Ruth Milner for assisting with this year’s effort, without their help the project would not have taken place. Help from ODFW, FWS, and volunteers made the day a fun and productive effort.

Cowlitz Valley Hunt Preparation: A joint meeting was held between Region 5 Law Enforcement and Wildlife Programs to develop the process for conducting the new Hunt Master hunt in the upper Cowlitz Valley. The meeting was very productive and a good plan was developed to implement the hunt.