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Guy Norman

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
March 2009

March 30, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Population Monitoring: Biologist Holman and technician Ridenour conducted elk surveys in the Trout Lake and Glenwood valleys, located primarily in Game Management Unit 578 (West Klickitat). The valleys were simultaneously covered with two vehicles on the evening of March 23 and the morning of March 26. Twelve groups of elk totaling 313 animals were observed on the 23rd, and ten groups totaling 421 individuals were located on the 26th. The elk were primarily located on Conboy National Wildlife Refuge, private agricultural fields in each valley, as well as the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve (DNR). Summaries and classifications for these elk will be included in the overall effort to develop a robust method of population estimation for the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Oregon Spotted Frogs: District biologist Anderson, with assistance from biologist Holman and technician Ridenour, conducted a preliminary survey of Oregon Spotted Frogs at the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve. Egg mass surveys were conducted as a method to estimate the health of the breeding population for this Washington State endangered species. Follow-up surveys will be conducted over the next two-week period to get a final count as a comparison to previous years surveys.

March 23, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Oak Habitat Enhancement: Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven met with National Wild Turkey Federation biologist MaMasters to work out logistics of the planned forest habitat enhancement project and select sites for treatment. Three units, almost 100% oak stands, were marked out with flagging on the Soda Springs Unit. The units range from 1.9 acre to 2.9 acres in size. A prescription for thinning the trees was developed that would preserve the larger oaks while culling the smaller competing trees. The forest inside the units and within 50 feet of the units will be surveyed for presence of western gray squirrel nests and provisions for protection of nests will be applied. The work is anticipated to begin in late April and the scope of the project is limited to conform to the definition of a Class I Forest Practice.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Erosion Control Plantings: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Assistant Manager Hauswald, and Technician Fox finished planting 500 Douglas fir, grand fir, noble fir, sitka spruce and red cedar near the Toutle River. Each of these seedlings had a 36" tree protector tube placed over them attached to a 5' piece of rebar. This planting took approximately five days due to the distance that needed to be covered (three miles) and the extra time required carrying and placing the tree protectors. On March 21st Calkins and Hauswald were joined by thirteen volunteers to plant red and sitka alder along the banks. On that day a total of 3,400 trees were planted over an area about one-mile in length in approximately 5 hours. We would like to thank all of the volunteers for their effort. Planting will continue for at least two more weeks including two more days when volunteers will be helping.

GAME DIVISION

Region 5 Deer Management: The annual Spring survey of deer on and near the Klickitat Wildlife Area was conducted on the 16th and 17th of March. Wildlife Biologist Holman, Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven, Fisheries Biologist Cady, retired Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager Morrison, and senior project student Meyers conducted the survey. A total of 299 deer were observed during the effort with 277 classified. The number of classified deer was significantly fewer than the 18-year average of 514 deer.

Significant in addition to the total number of deer observed, is the annual ratio of fawns to adults. Young deer are more likely to succumb to harsh winter conditions and food shortages, therefore the ratio provides a barometer for winter severity. During severe winters, fawns suffer mortality at a greater rate than adults thereby reducing the ratio of fawns to adults.

Grayback GMU Spring Deer Survey Summary 1980-2009

Grayback GMU Spring Deer Survey Summary 1980-2009
Click image to enlarge

This year's survey resulted in a ratio of 53 fawns per 100 adult deer. This ratio represents a value that is effectively equal to the mean ratio observed in the 30-year history of the survey. The 2009 survey indicates, that in spite of unusually cold December weather and high amounts of snowfall in western Washington, the deer present on or near the Klickitat Wildlife Area suffered little in the way of winter losses during 2008/09. Please see the attached figure illustrating the fawn to adult ratio recorded on the annual Spring Survey during the past 30 years and the number of deer classified during the past 18 years. Thanks to all those that participated in the annual spring survey.

Elk with hoof rot.
Hoof rot problem among elk in SW Washington has increased in its distribution and intensity in the last few years and hopefully this WDFW project will begin to shed some light on the causes.

Hoof Rot Study: Region 5 Biologists Prince, Holman, and Miller assisted WDFW staff Veterinarian Mansfield and Biologist Rowan in the examination of elk in SW Washington that were affected by hoof rot. Eight elk were collected and a wide variety of tissue and organ samples were collected for evaluation by Washington State University staff. Three elk of the eight were taken for study control purposes and the same specimens were submitted for analysis. The meat from the control animals was donated to charity. All elk were collected from areas with elk damage so that we could help solve damage problems while collecting animals for analysis.

This hoof rot problem has increased in its distribution and intensity in the last few years and hopefully this project will begin to shed some light on the causes. WDFW receives many phone calls from citizens and hunters about limping elk and this effort is the beginning of a process to answer some questions about this situation. This project was made possible by the cooperation of Law Enforcement Staff in Lewis and Cowlitz counties who helped identify landowners with sick elk and assisted in the collection process. Their help is very much appreciated.

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 and causing some erosion of forage areas on the Wildlife Area. The remainder of January was relatively dry with moderate to cool temperatures and only minor snow amounts. Temperatures during the first half of February ranged from near record highs to near record lows, but only moderate precipitation fell with moderate snow amounts. The latter part of the month was relatively mild but some low elevation snowfall occurred. Below normal temperatures were common during the first half of March and one significant low elevation snow event resulted in up to 9" of snow on the Wildlife Area. However, this condition lasted only a few days. The past week has been warmer and wet with showers or rain mixed with sun breaks.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for mixed rain and snow though the week with snow levels ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 feet. Temperatures should range from the mid 30's to low 50's, which is a bit cool but within the normal range.
  • The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for near normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
  • The 8-14 day outlook for Washington is for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps issued on March 19th, show a heightened chance of below average temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation for April. The Apr-Jun outlook map also suggests below average temperatures but a heightened chance of below normal precipitation in a portion of the South Cascades.
  • Habitat: South slopes are generally snow free to about 2500 feet but snow is present to about 1,000 feet on some North facing slopes. The Wildlife Area is currently clear of snow. Growth is increasing in grasses on the Wildlife Area and it appears we are to the point where forage is increasing on the site. Some early shrubs (willow, Indian plum) are showing signs of bud break.
  • Snow Depths:
  • Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 15.4 in.; June Lake (3,340 feet): 114.3 in.; Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 108.6 in.; Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 44.0 in. Depth increased at all these sites over the past week. Snowpack is now above normal for these locations.
  • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): 18"; Johnson Creek (2400 ft): No report (closed); Wakepish (2,800 feet): No report (closed); Cougar (2,200 feet): 40"+36" new; Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): 50"+ 48" new.
  • Animal Concentrations: 88 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area during a survey on March 5th. Since that time we have begun our spring tree planting and are seeing numbers that are in line with that count. We are not attempting to count the animals but rather are trying to avoid disturbing them. No reports of unusual concentrations of animals have been received in other areas.
  • Animal Condition: Most animals observed appear to be in good condition with only a few showing signs of decline in body condition. These signs include rough coats or thin appearance.
  • Mortality: None found during tree planting work or otherwise reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: Conducted an interview with a local Portland Reporter this week. Topics covered included stabilization and forage enhancement projects, winter conditions, feeding issues, and hunting seasons. The public is reminded that the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is closed to public access through April 30th to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands to animals wintering there.

March 16, 2009

GAME DIVISION

Elk Sightability Survey: Deer and Elk Specialist Mc Corquodale, Biologists Prince, Holman, Calkins, Hauswald, Miller, and GIS specialist Duff conducted winter elk surveys in District 10 all of last week. Portions of GMUs 522 (Loowitt), 520 (Winston), 524 (Margaret), 550 (Coweeman) and 556 (Toutle) were aerially surveyed during the effort. All radio-collared animals were located and the final number of elk observed will be reported when tallied. We would like to extend our appreciation to helicopter pilot Hagerman for his time and expertise in flying wildlife surveys.

As collected in District 9 last week, details related to habitat and survey variables as well as elk locations and survey routes were recorded in addition to total elk numbers, sex, and age composition in support of the development of a sightability model for the Mt. St. Helens elk herd. These habitat / survey variables will be balanced against the locations of radio-marked elk that evade detection during aerial surveys. The conditions found at the locations of the marked animals provide the capacity to mathematically correct population estimates for elk that are not seen during surveys.

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 and causing some erosion of forage areas on the Wildlife Area. The remainder of January was relatively dry with moderate to cool temperatures and only minor snow amounts. Temperatures during the first half of February ranged from near record highs to near record lows, but only moderate precipitation fell with moderate snow amounts. The latter part of the month was relatively mild but some low elevation snowfall occurred. Snow and rainfall amounts were minor during the first week of March but temperatures were slightly below normal. Temperatures have been below normal and significant snow fell over the last weekend and early in the week. Up to 9" accumulated on the Wildlife Area. Clear skies have melted much of the low elevation snow since, particularly on south facing slopes.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for mixed rain and snow though the week, with snow levels ranging from 1,500 to 5,500 feet. Temperatures should range from the low 30's to mid-40’s, which is below normal
    • The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for below normal temperatures and above 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 February 19th, show below average temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation for March. The March-May outlook map also suggests below average temperatures but equal chances of above or below precipitation.
  • Habitat: Snow is present in most areas above 1,000 feet but south slopes are clearing up. The Wildlife Area is currently mostly clear of snow. Some growth has been noted in grasses on the site and there is still some forage remaining on the site. Some areas, particularly those that were fertilized last year, have been grazed more heavily than others. Use has been highest near the east end of the mudflow.
  • Snow Depths:
    • Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 13.0 in.; June Lake (3,340 feet): 98.0 in.; Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 92.5 in.; Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 36.3 in. Depth increased slightly at all these sites over the past week. Snowpack is near normal for these locations.
    • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): No report; Johnson Creek (2400 ft): No report (closed); Wakepish (2,800 feet): No report (closed); Cougar (2,200 feet): 40"+6" new; Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): 50"+12" new.
  • Animal Concentrations: 88 elk were observed on the wildlife area during a survey on March 5, 2009. No reports of unusual concentrations of animals have been received in other areas.
  • Animal Condition: Most animals observed appear to be in good condition with only a few showing signs of decline in body condition. These signs include rough coats or thin appearance.
  • Mortality: None reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: Received a request for an interview with a local Portland Reporter. This is scheduled for next week. The public is reminded that the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is closed to public access through April 30th to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands to animals wintering there.

March 9, 2009

Columbia White-Tailed Deer Camera Project: FLIR technology is being used to estimate the sub-species composition on the islands in the Lower Columbia River. FLIR can detect deer but not identify sub-species.
Columbia White-Tailed Deer Camera Project: FLIR technology is being used to estimate the sub-species composition on the islands in the Lower Columbia River. FLIR can detect deer but not identify sub-species.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbia White-Tailed Deer Camera Project: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and volunteer Dan Howell retrieved data cards and re-located cameras on three islands near Longview this week. This USFWS project is designed to help estimate the sub species composition on the islands in the Lower Columbia River that are surveyed by FLIR technology. FLIR can detect deer but not identify sub species, so the cameras are used to sub sample the deer on the islands. Images were taken of both Columbia White-Tailed Deer and Black-Tailed Deer. Cameras were re-located to continue sampling.

Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson presented a proposal to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for funding of the western pond turtle project in the Columbia River Gorge. WDFW currently has funding for this project through 2009, and this proposal is for work beginning in Fiscal Year 2010 and beyond. This week’s presentation was for the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) staff for their final recommendations to BPA. Project proposals are designed to mitigate for wildlife populations affected by the Federal Columbia River Power System (hydro projects). BPA has been one of our primary financial sponsors for the last 8 years and is responsible for the successes we have had in recovery of the western pond turtle population in the Columbia River Gorge.

Game Division

Mt. St Helens Elk Count: Biologists Miller and Prince completed the fifth count this season of elk on the Mount St. Helen's Wildlife Area this week. Eighty-eight elk were observed during the count. No compositional data were taken due to fog and increasing snowfall. Elk condition was also hard to determine because of the low visibility. The final winter count will take place at the beginning of April. Elk numbers on the mudflow have been relatively low this year as compared to last year.

Elk Composition / Sightability Surveys: Biologist Holman with plenty of help from Biologist Prince, Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven, Shillapoo / St. Helens Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald, conducted winter elk surveys in District 9. Portions of GMUs 554 (Yale), 568 (Washougal), 572 (Siouxon) and 560 (Lewis River), were aerially surveyed during the effort. A total of 219 elk were located during the survey flights with an observed ratio of 48 calves: 100 cows: 23 bulls.

In addition to total elk numbers, sex and age composition, details related to habitat and survey variables as well as elk locations and survey routes were recorded in support of the development of a sightability model for the Mt. St. Helens elk herd. Specifically, elk activity, % of snow cover, % of vegetation cover, vegetation type, and lighting were all categorized for future analysis in the development of the model. During future surveys in District 10, these habitat / survey variables will be balanced against the locations of radio-marked elk that evade detection during aerial surveys. The conditions found at the locations of the marked animals provide the capacity to mathematically correct population estimates for elk that are not seen during surveys.

Hoof Rot Project: Plans are nearly complete for the collection of elk that are symptomatic of hoof rot in SW Washington. We have names and locations of several places that will allow us to access their property to collect the elk to collect internal organs and legs for pathology exam at Washington State University. Limited number of healthy elk will also be collected for control purposes from areas with documented elk damage.

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 and causing some erosion of forage areas on the Wildlife Area. The remainder of January was relatively dry with moderate to cool temperatures and only minor snow amounts. Temperatures during the first half of February ranged from near record highs to near record lows, but only moderate precipitation fell with moderate snow amounts. The latter part of the month was relatively mild but some low elevation snowfall occurred. Snow and Rainfall amounts were minor during the first week of March but temperatures were slightly below normal.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for some rain and snow through the week, with snow levels ranging from 500 to 3,000 feet. Temperatures should range from the mid 20s to mid-40s, which is below normal
  • 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 near normal precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: No Change The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps issued on February 19th, show below average temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation for March. The March-May outlook map also suggests below average temperatures but equal chances of above or below precipitation.
  • Habitat: Currently there is about 1/2 inch of fresh snow at 2,000 feet but for the most part slopes below this elevation are almost snow free. The Wildlife Area is currently mostly clear of snow. Some growth has been noted in grasses on the site and there is still forage remaining on the site. Some areas, particularly those that were fertilized last year, have been grazed more heavily than others. Use has been highest near the east end of the mudflow.
  • Snow Depths:
    Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 12.1 in.; June Lake (3,340 feet): 86.3 in.; Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 81.8 in.; Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 33.4 in. Depth increased at the first three sites listed but decreased at the Pepper Creek location over the past week. Snowpack is slightly below average for these locations.
  • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): 10"; Johnson Creek (2400 ft): No report (closed); Wakepish (2,800 feet): No report (closed); Cougar (2,200 feet): 40"+3" new; Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): 50"+6" new.
  • Animal Concentrations: 88 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area during a survey on March 5, 2009. No reports of unusual concentrations of animals have been received in other areas.
  • Animal Condition: Weather conditions precluded good observation of animal condition during the survey this week. However, during recent animal capture event during the week of February 17th, approximately 25% of young animals were displaying a rough pelage.
  • Mortality: None reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: No contacts this week pertinent to winter conditions. The public is reminded that the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is closed to public access through April 30th to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands to animals wintering there.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Some new snow was reported above 3000 ft this week in the south Cascades. Temperatures are normal for this time of year and snow pack is below normal for the south Cascades.
  • Winter Severity: The south facing slopes at the Klickitat Wildlife Area are open and forage habitat is available. There is little concern for the severity of this year's winter conditions in Skamania County and the western portion of Klickitat County. The eastern portions of Klickitat County have had lower snowfall accumulation this winter and deer are in good condition
  • Habitat: Habitat is open and continued green up is seen on south facing slopes. Forage habitat has increased for big game and lower elevation valleys are receiving more use.
  • Animal Concentrations: Large elk concentrations (150-200) have been seen in the Trout Lake area.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented or reported at this time.
  • Public Contacts: None received this week.

March 2, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Oak Habitat Enhancement: Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven met with Department of Natural Resources foresters Calkins and Blazek to look at the oak habitat enhancement project site and define the scope of work on the Wildlife Area. The foresters provided basic information that will be used in designing the project, as well as a wealth of other helpful suggestions and information. They are interested in the work and would like to see how the project progresses. Manager VanLeuven contacted NWTF biologist McMasters with details of the input provided by DNR so the discussed parameters can be incorporated into the project plan.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Herons Return to Previously Abandoned Rookery Site: Earlier this winter Wildlife Area Manager Calkins observed several nests in a stand of trees on the wildlife area that at one time was home to a Great Blue Heron Colony numbering over 300 nests. This week Calkins returned to the site and observed at least two herons on nests, confirming that the site is once again being used by nesting herons. One of the measures identified in the wildlife area plan was to plant additional cottonwoods to eventually replace some of the mature trees, many of which had died and fallen while the rookery was active. 1,500 trees have been planted over the past three years as part of that effort. We were never able to determine a cause for the abandonment of this site by the birds several years ago who moved their nest site to another part of the wildlife area. Many birders will welcome their return, as this is a location where they can be seen easily from a nearby road without creating disturbance to the nest site.

Field Activities: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Fox replaced a 500 foot section of fence along Lower River Road. The replacement was necessary in part to discourage unauthorized off-road travel across the wildlife area. Placement of tree tubes and mats continues at three tree planting locations. We have also started some weed spraying for poison hemlock.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Erosion Control Projects: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with engineers from the Habitat Program to discuss recent erosion issues and design criteria for a large scale stabilization project funded by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Construction work is planned for this coming summer. Prior to that time we plan to complete the planting phase of the project. We plan to plant approximately 14,000 rooted trees and shrubs, an undetermined number of willow cuttings, and spread a grass/clover seed mix over about three miles of the erosion prone bank area.

Volunteers Needed: Volunteers are needed in late March and early April to help with the tree planting effort described in the item above. Interested individuals should send a message to teamvancouver@dfw.wa.gov to receive a schedule and other information. All WDFW volunteers are required to register and complete an orientation checklist prior to participation in agency work.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Gray Squirrel (WGS): Biologist Anderson participated in a meeting to discuss landscape planning and development of PHS guidelines for management of the western gray squirrel. At issue is the need to present the public (with an emphasis on counties) with information on ways to work with WDFW to control land development and protect critical WGS habitat areas. WDFW would like to take more of a landscape approach to protect WGS habitat areas for eventual recovery of the species. Our goal is to provide management recommendations that guide county planners to comply with Growth Management requirements for T & E species like the WGS.

Townsend's Big-Eared Bats: Biologist Holman assisted the U.S. Forest Service in conducting hibernacula surveys for Townsend's Big-Eared bats. During winter, the bats enter a state of hibernation or torpor and remain largely inactive for extended periods of time while attached to the ceilings and walls of caves. During this period the bats are sensitive to increases in temperature, which can cause them to wake and use valuable energy while increasing their metabolic rate. Due to this sensitivity, the Forest Service implements seasonal closures of the caves to public entrance and does not advertise the location of this important wildlife habitat. Initial survey results indicate slightly more total bats than during the most recent comprehensive survey effort, which took place in 2006.

GAME DIVISION

Washington Waterfowl Presentation: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended the monthly meeting of the Lower Columbia Chapter of Washington Waterfowl Association and gave a presentation covering the history, goals, recent accomplishments, and future projects on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. Following the presentation, Calkins fielded questions for about an hour on topics ranging from management of hunting blinds on the area to budget cuts and layoffs in the agency.

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 and causing some erosion of forage areas on the Wildlife Area. The remainder of January was relatively dry with moderate to cool temperatures and only minor snow amounts. Temperatures during the first half of February ranged from near record highs to near record lows, but only moderate precipitation fell with moderate snow amounts. The latter part of the month was relatively mild but some low elevation snowfall occurred.
  • Short-term forecast: Forecast for the South Washington Cascades is for some rain through the week with snow levels ranging from 2,500 to 6,000 feet. Temperatures should range from the mid 30's to mid-40s, which is within the normal range.
    • The 6-10 day outlook for Washington is for below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
    • The 8-14 day outlook for Washington is for below normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.
  • Long-term forecast: No change. The National Weather Service long-range outlook maps issued on February 19th, show below average temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation for March. The March-May outlook map also suggests below average temperatures but equal chances of above or below precipitation.
  • Habitat: Currently there is about three inches of fresh snow at 2,000 feet with lesser amounts below. The Wildlife Area is currently mostly clear of snow. Some growth has been noted in grasses on the site and there is still forage remaining on the site. Some areas, particularly those that were fertilized last year, have been grazed more heavily than others. Use has been highest near the east end of the mudflow.
  • Snowtel Sites: Spirit Lake (3,120 feet): 8.3 in.; June Lake (3,340 feet): 83.7 in.; Sheep Canyon (4,030 feet): 78.1 in.; Pepper Creek (2,140 feet): 34.6 in. Depth increased at the first three sites listed but decreased at the Pepper Creek location over the past week. Snowpack is slightly below average for these locations.
  • Snow Parks: Skate Creek (1,500 feet): 10"; Johnson Creek (2400 ft): No report (closed); Wakepish (2,800 feet): No report (closed); Cougar (2,200 feet): 36"+6" new; Marble Mountain (2,700 feet): 48"+6" new.
  • Animal Concentrations: No surveys since 334 elk were observed on the Wildlife Area during a survey on February 2nd. No reports of unusual concentrations of animals have been received in other areas. A survey is planned for next week.
  • Animal Condition: Most animals observed appear to be in good condition with only a few showing signs of decline in body condition. These signs include rough coats or thin appearance.
  • Mortality: None reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: A number of inquiries have been received regarding access to the Wildlife Area and shed antler hunting. The public is reminded that the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is closed to public access through April 30th to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands to animals wintering there.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Weather in the south Cascades this past week has been moderate. Some new snow has accumulated above 3500 ft. Temperatures have been normal for this time of the year, and the snow pack is below normal.
  • Winter Severity: The south facing slopes at the Klickitat Wildlife Area are open and forage habitat is available.
  • Habitat: Habitat is open and some green up is seen on south facing slopes below 2000 ft and forage habitat has increased for big game.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented or reported at this time.
  • Public Contacts: None received this week.