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Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
May 2010

May 24, 2010

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Trapping continues at the Bergen Road and Pierce National Wildlife Refuge sites. Biologists Hallock, Groesbeck, and Holman have the lead on this effort. Trapping has continued to be successful at Bergen where over 200 captures have been recorded during this year’s efforts. Unfortunately, cool, rainy weather has made trapping at Pierce very slow.

Western Gray Squirrel: Biologist Anderson conducted a site visit to the White Salmon Oaks Natural Area to assist the Department of Natural Resources with a habitat evaluation for western gray squirrels. An initial visit was conducted to determine what areas adjacent to their ownership might support a western gray squirrel population based on current habitat conditions. A follow-up survey will be conducted to locate any western gray squirrels or their nests as part of the habitat evaluation.

May 17, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Peterman Hill: Wildlife Area staff attended the annual Peterman Hill Unit timber reservation meeting with Green Diamond Resources and Tacoma Power. Green Diamond Resources (Simpson Timber) still maintains timber rights to parts of the Peterman Unit and as they harvest these units the “timber right” is exhausted and returned back to Tacoma Power’s holdings. This year’s meeting discussed completed harvest units, 2010 planned harvests, RMAP schedule, haul rates, harvest landing abatements, and rock pit activity.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
North Breaks Subunit: Manager Van Leuven provided oversight to the release of cattle onto the KWA grazing permit area - the North Breaks subunit of the KWA range. Manager Van Leuven counted animals as they entered the gate: 120 cow/calf pairs, 2 young cows, and 5 bulls. Everything went smoothly, and the livestock owners dispersed the cattle and checked the fences for integrity while Van Leuven worked at the gate by the Glenwood Highway. Manager Van Leuven inspected the fences around the exclosures and checked the watering trough. Range plants look good thanks to weekly rains and the soil is firm enough to handle the animal traffic.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Streaked Horn Lark surveys: Biologist Miller assisted the Nature Conservancy and USFWS biologists in surveying islands in the Columbia River for Streaked horn larks. The following islands were surveyed using a new protocol: Rice, Miller Sands Spit, Pillar Rock, Welch, Tennashillahee, Brown, Crimms, Cottonwood, and Sandy Islands. Larks were observed at most of the islands on the dredged material sites. Surveys are scheduled to take place thru early July this year.

Bergen Road pond turtle habitat improvement project.
Under Biologists Holman and Anderson’s direction, inmate work crews completed their 6th and final day of habitat improvement activities at the Bergen Road western pond turtle site.

Western Pond Turtle Management: Under Biologists Holman and Anderson’s direction, inmate work crews completed their 6th and final day of habitat improvement activities at the Bergen Road western pond turtle site. The DNR supervised Larch Mt. Corrections Crew did an outstanding job of improving nesting habitat around Dead Tree Pond. The 10-man crew based out of Larch Mountain Correctional Facility used a combination of mowers, chainsaws, brush-cutters, shovels, and rakes to remove and pile non-native vegetation. Additionally, the meadows favored for nesting by the turtles were mowed to provide easy access for the female turtles while seeking their nesting locations. This hillside is the most important nesting habitat for this population in the Gorge. This work will ensure quality nesting habitat for this group of turtles for several years to come. Funding for this work was provided by the Bonneville Power Administration. Thanks to the Department of Natural Resources for their ongoing cooperation and capacity to conduct this type of work.

Western Pond Turtle Trapping Efforts: Biologist Holman staged and prepared equipment for the startup of two additional turtle trapping efforts. The second half of May will focus work on the Bergen Road and Pierce National Wildlife Refuge Sites. Fifty-eight traps will be deployed over 5 water bodies between the two sites.

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson conducted a second sandhill crane survey at Conboy NWR this week. Some pairs initiated nesting in April and at least two territories now have colts (juveniles). Most birds are on territory and water levels at the refuge look good for successful breeding conditions this year.

May 10, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Vandalized oak tree
Vandals cut down three healthy oak trees ranging 172-202 years old.
Work crew conducting habitat improvement.
Biologist Holman directed the work of inmate work crews conducting habitat improvement activities at the Bergen Road western pond turtle site.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Vandalism at Stinson Flat Campground: Manager Van Leuven responded to a call from a visitor to the Stinson Flat Campground regarding several issues including a person harassing other campers by firing shots at night and blocking the road into/out of the campground by felling oak trees across the road. Manager Van Leuven surveyed the damage and found three large oak trees cut down along the road into the campground. The cut trees ranged from 16 to 21 inches at stump height, and by counting the tree rings, found that they were all over 172 years old. The oldest was at least 202 years old, with no decay in the heart of the tree, indicating that it would have lived many more years had it not been destroyed. Manager Van Leuven worked with a local contractor to remove the logs and debris to the KWA Headquarters. WDFW officers have gathered information on this case and the oak logs are being held as evidence.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman directed the work of inmate work crews conducting habitat improvement activities at the Bergen Road western pond turtle site. The 10-man crew based out of Larch Mountain Correctional Facility used a combination of mowers, chainsaws, brush-cutters, shovels, and rakes to remove and pile non-native vegetation. Additionally, the meadows favored for nesting by the turtles were mowed to provide easy access for the female turtles while seeking their nesting locations. Thanks to the Department of Natural Resources for their ongoing cooperation and capacity to conduct this type of work. Please see the attached photos of inmates conducting vegetation control for the improvement of pond turtle habitat.

Priority Habitats and Species Management: Regional Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Biologists Anderson, Azerrad, and Holman along with Regional Habitat Program Manager Howe and PHS Biologist Labbe participated in a demonstration and test of the new PHS on-line feature developed by the Habitat Program. This powerful tool will enable WDFW Staff, planning Staff, consultants, as well as members of the public at large to view PHS locations from a GIS program over the internet. Habitat Program has done an excellent job of developing this long-needed capability.

Western Gray Squirrel Surveys: Region 5 Wildlife staff Prince, Anderson, and Van Leuven assisted the Habitat Program in surveying for western gray squirrel nests on a private landowner’s property in Klickitat County this week. The landowner has intact squirrel habitat with many nests and squirrels on his land. The surveys were initiated by PHS Biologist Labbe in the Region 5 Habitat program in response to a recent FPA application submitted by the landowner. There was a lot of ground to cover and this was a great cross-program coordinated effort.

Rehabilitation: Two bobcats that were brought to State licensed rehabilitator Yuth last spring 2009 and rehabbed at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center were released back into the area that they were originally from. The bobcats had reached the stage of hunting on their own and were adverse to humans. The release was successful and the two animals were quick to leave the release area (BobcatRehabRelease.pdf). Regional staff Holman, Jonker, and Moats worked with the rehabilitators to coordinate the release.

Habitat Conservation Plan: District Wildlife Biologists Miller and Anderson provided input to the HCP process this week (e.g., information regarding Columbian White tailed deer).

Gray squirrels
Gray squirrel nest tree
Fencing project in Spears Unit
Progress on the Swale Creek Unit fencing project
Elk mortality briefing
With the help of volunteers and WDFW staff, the annual Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area winter elk mortality survey was completed this week

May 3, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Western Gray Squirrel: Retired Klickitat Hatchery Manager Anderson lives next to the Klickitat Wildlife Area and reports observing this Gray squirrel nest tree near his residence. He has been watching this litter of squirrels and has been well entertained by their antics. This photo is exceptional and Klickitat Wildlife Area Manger requested permission from Anderson to include it in the weekly report. There is a strong population of western gray squirrels on the KWA, but rarely is there opportunity to take good pictures of this population.

Swale Creek Unit Fence: Progress on construction continues according to plan. The crew placed posts and built end braces for 1/4 mile of new fence and attached the wire strands to the 1/4 mile of posts that were set last week. One corner ended up requiring some special construction. Design called for a gate there, to drive stray cattle out of the WDFW fields. However, the rocky soil made it necessary to use rock jacks for post supports. Neighboring landowners have allowed the WDFW crew to drive across their property most of the way to the fence line, which is greatly appreciated and has greatly aided the rate of progress. Balsamroot and lupine, the dominant forbs on the site, are beginning to bloom.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Spears Unit: CWA staff repaired parts of the access road to the millpond on the Spears Unit with over 23 tons of rock. This activity is part of a much larger effort to create a warm water fishery on the 27-acre pond. The infrastructure for maintaining pond levels had rusted out and the pond levels had steadily dropped. The water levels could not be brought back up to the desired levels until the standpipe was replaced, which occurred in 2009.

Kosmos Unit: The Kosmos Unit parking lot on the east end of Riffe Lake was resurfaced using a rock box and the Wildlife Area equipment. There was plenty of available rock that just needed to be redistributed to fill holes and take out the roughness in the parking lot.

GAME DIVISION

Elk Mortality Survey: With the help of volunteers and WDFW staff, the annual Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area winter elk mortality survey was completed this week. Two winter mortalities were found during the survey this year. Mild winter conditions and lower numbers of elk wintering on the Wildlife Area were probably factors contributing to this low number. This survey has been conducted annually since 1999 and would not be possible without the help of so many volunteers; many thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers that helped this year with the effort and to WDFW staff in the Wildlife, Fish, and Habitat programs.

Dark Goose project: Biologists Miller and Prince from Region 5, Waterfowl Program staff Kraege and Moore, and volunteer Howell spent a day on Miller Sands island deploying nest bow nets to capture female dark geese. Nests of dark geese were identified during a recent nest survey and stage of incubation was noted. We returned to these nests and set a remote control bow net to capture the female. The goal was to install the radio collars so the female and her brood can be found during the banding operation. Biologists can trigger the bow net up to 500 feet away and then it's a footrace to get to the trap quickly. We were successful in capturing 2 geese and installed one female with a radio collar to track movements. This population is of interest to managers as they resemble the migratory Dusky Canada goose, which is limited in numbers and harvest is restricted by quota. Our thanks to volunteer Dan Howell for helping to make the bow nets which will be used on this and other projects in the future to capture birds.


Dark Goose Project volunteers Dark Goose Project volunteers Dark Goose Project volunteers
Biologists Miller and Prince from Region 5, Waterfowl Program staff Kraege and Moore, and volunteer Howell spent a day on Miller Sands island deploying nest bow nets to capture female dark geese

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Holman, Hallock, and Groesbeck completed the initial phase of pond turtle captures at the Bergen Road site. The 12-day effort employed 34 traps in 4 water bodies to produce 130 total captures comprised of 69 different individual pond turtles. Trapping at Bergen will continue during the second half of May so that a robust population estimate can be calculated from this effort.