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Guy Norman

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
October 2009

October 26, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Waterfowl Hunter Survey: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins interviewed waterfowl hunters on the opening day of duck season at the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. This year we are conducting a survey to measure hunter success and satisfaction in the field. This survey will be followed by a voluntary mail survey at the end of the season to gauge hunters’ opinions of a variety of other topics concerning waterfowl hunting on the Wildlife Area. Although other hunters were known to be out, Calkins was able to contact a total of 12 hunters after their hunts. Two South Unit hunters harvested four ducks with a total of six hunt hours. Ten hunters who hunted a total of 22 hours on the Vancouver Lake Unit harvested only two ducks. No hunters were found on the North Unit. Part of our field survey this year asks hunters to rate their hunt for the day on a scale of 1 to 5 with five being the best. The average rating on the South Unit was 3.5 and 2.5 on the Vancouver Lake Unit. All of the hunters at Vancouver Lake cited conflicts with a local rowing club as the reason for their lower ratings.

Stabilization project on the Mt. St. Helen's WLA. Stabilization project on the Mt. St. Helen's WLA.
Cross logs and bracing have been added to the wood pile structures intended to reduce erosion of the mudflow and also trap sediment due to river movement on site. One of several completed engineered logjam structures that in combination with lateral woodpile type structures are intended to deflect the river at high flows away from erosion prone bank areas.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Monitoring Activities: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins collected clip plot samples from four different areas on the mudflow, which will be air dried for a period of several weeks and weighed to evaluate potential differences in elk forage production due to enhancement and maintenance treatments that have been applied. We hope to sample at least two more sites before winter arrives. In addition, two photo points were retaken as a visual method of monitoring change.

Stabilization Projects: The Cowlitz Tribe and Lower Columbia River Fisheries Enhancement Group completed repair work on three structures that were significantly damaged during high flows last winter. The repair work included additional bracing to help hold the structures in place. The photo at right illustrates the cross logs and bracing that have been added to the wood pile structures that are intended to reduce erosion of the mudflow and also trap sediment due to river movement on site. WDFW’s construction crews continued work on the larger project upstream where erosion has been worst in recent years. This project employs four different types of structures with the same goals of reducing erosion and trapping sediments. The photo at right illustrates one of several completed engineered logjam structures that in combination with lateral woodpile type structures are intended to deflect the river at high flows away from erosion prone bank areas. Work on this project that is funded by a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant is expected to be completed by the end of October.

The largest buck seen so far this year was taken by Deb Ross of Woodland.
The largest buck seen so far this year was taken by Deb Ross of Woodland.
Damage from illegal firewood theft is destruction of oak trees up to 8 inches in diameter and a few broken conifers.
Damage from illegal firewood theft is destruction of oak trees up to 8 inches in diameter and a few broken conifers.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Deer Hunter Surveys: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven conducted hunter surveys on the weekend to gauge hunter participation and success. Some camping areas were full, but other parts of the Wildlife Area were lightly utilized for camping. There were a substantial number of hunters on the Wildlife Area, with very few problems noted. Recent showers (and snow) prompted a lifting of the burn ban, and most camps had fires going on Saturday when it rained in the middle of the day. Bright fall colors, moderate temperatures, and clear air made for pleasant camping weather and everyone was in good spirits.

Manger Van Leuven observed the following:

  • On Saturday October 17th: 109 hunters, 5 bucks - all taken in GMU 388. All were 2 X 3 point or 3 X 3 point. In addition, 1 small bear was taken.
  • On Sunday October 18th: 88 hunters, 7 bucks - all from GMU 388. Three were 3 X 3, three 2 X 3, and one was a spike (taken by a youth hunter). One large bear was also harvested.
  • On Saturday October 24th: 16 hunters, 3 bucks - one 3 X 2 point buck and one 4 X 4 point buck (a third 3 point buck was reported, but was not observed).
  • On Sunday October 25th: 4 hunters, one 2 X 3 point buck.

The largest buck seen so far this year was taken by Deb Ross of Woodland. She and her husband were hunting together when they encountered this handsome animal near Anderson Road, on the Soda Springs Unit.

There were 4 unattended campfires and several instances of people camping in "new" places along the Sheep Canyon Road instead of using customary campsites that have already been worn bare. Manager Van Leuven had to put one unattended campfire out twice. The second time, Officer Bolton was with Manager Van Leuven; and when the people using that camp returned, they received a citation.

Firewood Theft: Manager Van Leuven and Officer Bolton followed up on a report from hunters that a person is using a log skidder to steal firewood from the Wildlife Area. Tracks from a large piece of equipment and numerous broken and uprooted oak trees were noted. The majority of the damage is destruction of oak trees up to 8 inches in diameter and a few broken conifers. The Klickitat County Sheriff's office has been contacted for assistance on this case.

GAME DIVISION

Glenwood Valley: Biologist Anderson met with community members and DNR to discuss modern firearm elk season and safety in the Glenwood Valley. A large elk population associated with state timber land, agriculture, and residential areas have escalated the concern that something needs to be done to reduce safety concerns with hunter/public interactions. WDFW is assisting the community with discussion on resolutions to the issue. Our goal is to work with the community to reduce public safety concerns and continue to provide hunter access to the local elk population.

Modern Firearm Deer Season Opener: Biologist Holman and volunteer Renan operated a deer hunting check station in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal) through opening weekend of rifle deer season. Four-hundred-fifty hunters were checked over the course of the two-day effort. Eleven deer and six grouse were checked. The check station is located near the town of Yacolt and serves as an entrance point into approximately 30,000 acres of Weyerhaeuser’s Mt. St. Helens Tree Farm. Access to the forestland is facilitated by members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club and partially funded through an ALEA grant. Thanks to the members of the Club for their efforts to facilitate free public access to this popular deer hunting location.

Hunting Season Preparations: Region 5 Biologists worked on preparations for the upcoming goose and elk seasons; including staffing of goose check stations, checking equipment, and preparing barrels and signs for elk parts collection program.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Wind Power: Biologist Anderson met with habitat division and wildlife research staff to discuss the Juniper Canyon wind power project in Klickitat County. The primary wildlife issue with this project is the presence of ferruginous hawk and golden eagle territories associated with the project. The ferruginous hawk is a state threatened species and regional staff have concerns that wind power development near these sites will compromise WDFW's ability to implement recovery guidelines and protect critical habitat.

Western Pond Turtle Habitat Management: Biologist Holman conducted a site visit to provide input and monitor the progress of a forest thinning designed to improve habitat for western pond turtles on Forest Service managed land in Skamania County. Approximately 17 acres of what will eventually be roughly 250 acres has been completed. The thinning is designed to remove crowded Douglas fir trees and create growing space for Oregon white oak. Additionally, placement of logs into various ponds (for turtle basking), snag creation (for birds, insects, small mammals, and eventually wood recruitment into the ponds), as well as understory burning of debris associated with the forest product removal will all be part of the project. Thanks to the U.S. Forest Service Staff members associated with conducting this project.

October 19, 2008

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbain White tailed deer: A group of people from WDFW, USFWS, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and a local Safari Club chapter met to build some pens on the release site for the next translocation of Columbian White tailed deer. The deer will be medicated to reduce stress and pens allow the deer to recover where needed. The island is not accessible by road and so the crew and supplies needed to be transported by boat to the work site. Many hands made the project go well and the work was accomphished in short order. The next phase of this project will be to finish the pens just prior to the re-location in March. Thanks go to Erik White, CIT wildlife biologist, for securing help from the local SCI chapter.

BIRDFEST: Biologist Anderson attended the annual BIRDFEST event organized by the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. WDFW participated by assisting with evening field trips with the public to view sandhill cranes coming to roost at dusk. This year's crane tour provided perfect weather for viewing and approximately 500 sandhill cranes came in at dusk to provide viewers with spectacular photo and scoping opportunities. In addition, WDFW provided maps, posters, and other materials about our programs at the community center during the day on Saturday and Sunday. This year's attendance at the festival far exceeded past years participation as nice weather and new events attracted lots of participation.

GAME DIVISION

Mt. St. Helens Elk Parts Collections: Region 5 Wildlife Program biologists assembled over 600 packages for antlerless elk permit holders in GMUs 520, 522, 524, 550, 556, 560, and 572 this week. These packets contain information for the hunters on the upcoming organ collection projectin the St. Helens elk herd area. Hunters are being asked to submit heart, kidney, liver, and teeth samples to biologists in an effort to assess body condition of cow elk harvested in these GMUs. The packets will be mailed in the coming weeks and will arrive to the hunters about 10 days before the start of their hunt.

Region 5 Deer Management: Biologist Holman prepared and conducted a combination of “Thank You” letters, e-mails, and phone calls to parties involved in collection of annual deer productivity surveys in the Region. Several timber companies, various agencies, WDFW Staff, members of Sportsman / Conservation organizations, and at large volunteers make up the Regional deer survey effort. Data compiled from these sources is used for one of the inputs into the Regional deer population modeling effort. Thanks again to all those who participated.

October 12, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Fence and Gate Damage: Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager addressed incidents of gate and fence damage. An illegal gate had been erected on the Wildlife Area property line and the WDFW property line fence was cut to do so. Manager VanLeuven repaired the fence as this was providing acces to an abandoned road as well as to areas where motor vehicle use is restricted due to seasonal road closures. "No Offroad Vehicles" were posted. In addition, a gate was repaired on the Wildlife Area/Western Pacific Timeber property line. The fence was damaged by people driving over it which, as a reult, allowed cattle that were permitted to graze on WDFW land to escape onto to Western Pacific Timber land.

GAME DIVISION

2010 Season: Region Five wildlife and law enforcement program staff met this week to discuss the Boistfort and Toledo August damage hunts. This year's hunts exposed much dissatisfaction from participating landowners with the hunt structures in both areas. Hunter surveys were also conducted before the meeting to gauge hunter success and to seek input on problems they encountered with gaining access. Recommendations for change to each hunt in 2010 will be decided upon in late November.

October 5, 2008

Davis Lake project
Purple Loosestrife Trend - 2007 - 2009
[Click image to enlarge]

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Watchable Wildlife Sightings: The fall migration is in full swing on the Vancouver Lowlands with new arrivals showing up daily. Several thousand Canada Geese can now be seen in the harvested cornfields, along with Sandhill Cranes, white-fronted geese, and the occasional snow goose. While working in the Vancouver Lake Unit one day this week, Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald saw 50-60 American White Pelicans flying that appeared to have just taken flight off from Vancouver Lake, and later noticed another seven resting on the lake. Northern Pintails, green-winged teal, gadwalls, mallards, egrets, and several shorebird species are also becoming common sites along the wetland ponds.

Purple Loosestrife Control: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald has completed the work for this year on controlling purple loosestrife in all three units of the Wildlife Area. Control work consisted of cutting, pulling, and herbicide applications every 5-14 days between late June and late September in order to control the spread of the plant on the Wildlife Area. An approximate 60 acre area in the North Unit, which had the highest density of the plant on the Wildlife Area, was surveyed for the third consecutive year to monitor the trend of the plant occurrence. The area was surveyed by counting the number of live plants treated during control work. The assumption was made that if an individual plant had been treated previously (sprayed, pulled, or cut) it would not be counted a second time. The survey showed a declining trend of 39% between 2007 and 2008, a decline of 34% between 2008 and 2009, with an overall decline of 60% over the three year period. The attached graph summarizes the counts over the three year survey period.

GAME DIVISION

Pheasant Season Opener: Regional Staff conducted car counts at Pheasant Release Sites at Woodland Bottoms and the Shillapoo Wildlife Area on opening day. Car counts are used in this program to monitor hunter use and as a mechanism to adjust the number of birds allocated to each location in future seasons. The counts also give us a sense of trends in participation in the program as a whole. A total of 123 pheasant hunter cars were counted on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area and 21 were present at Woodland Bottoms by 8:30 AM on the opener. This represents a 13% drop at Shillapoo and a 28% decline at Woodland Bottoms from last year’s opener. The primary topic of discussion with hunters contacted was the license fee increase that recently went into effect that probably contributed, at least partially, to the reduction of hunter numbers.

St. Helens Land Access Program: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker and Wildlife Scientific Technician Pyzik have conducted 4 WDFW orientations thus far for the St. Helens Land Access program with 2 more scheduled in November. The focus of this cooperative effort between WDFW, Weyerhaeuser, and several volunteer organizations is to facilitate additional week day motorized access during special elk permit seasons on the Weyerhaeuser St. Helens Tree farm. A WDFW press release was sent out in addition to e-mails sent to all St. Helens Land Access volunteers from the last 2 years reminding them of this volunteer effort. The WDFW St. Helens Land Access Program website sign-up page was re-activated (http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/index.html) and has been successfully used, with 95 volunteers signed up to date to volunteer on specific dates. The St. Helens Tree Farm has been open to walk-in only and closed to motorized access; however, portions of the tree farm may be opened for motorized access during this week’s muzzleloader special permit elk hunts only – hunters are encouraged to call the Weyerhaeuser hotline at (866) 636-6531 for the most up to date openings and closures on the farm.

TRAINING

MOCC Training: Multiple Region 5 employees attended the agency boat (MOCC) training this week. District Biologist Miller was lead instructor for this session and coordinated the logistics for the class and other instructor participation. The training exposed students to various types of boats and proper operating procedures. The boat portion of the class worked students through multiple maneuvers on the water, visual distress signaling techniques, emergency procedures, and trailer maneuvering skills. The classroom portion covered boat lighting, safe operating, radio communication, safety equipment requirements, and much more. All students passed the class and met the agency requirement for boat operation training.