Service Awards: Recently District Biologists Anderson and Miller received
awards for their service with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Anderson was recognized
for 20 years of service. During his career he has been instumental in recovery
work with bald eagles, peregrine falcons and western pond turtles in the Columbia
River Gorge. He is also responsible for managing game species including one
of the states most popular deer herds in Klickitat County.
Miller received his 30 year
service award highlighting his work with elk and Canada geese in the region.
He has been the agency lead in studies and management of elk in the Mt. St.
Helens area since the eruption in 1980. He also spent several years studying
Canada Geese in the Lower Columbia River that led to one of the states first
early September hunts to manage the population. Miller has also been instumental
in work related to the recovery of dusky Canada geese and Columbian white-tailed
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Shillapoo Lake Value
Engineering Study: WDFW has been working for several years with the
US Army Corps of Engineers on a project that would reestablish wetland habitat
in about 450 acres of the drained Shillapoo Lakebed. The project includes construction
of levees and water control structures to manage water levels and vegetation.
The drainage system within the diking district would be modified and the pump
system would be upgraded to protect private lands from flooding and allow for
the best water management capability in the wetlands. Wildlife Area Manager
Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald recently met with the Corps to review
the project and look for ways to improve it's functionality and also opportunities
to reduce the cost of the project before construction begins. The two agencies
hope to begin construction work on the project this summer.
tailed Deer: Surveys are underway in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties
to evaluate flood damage impacts to CWTD and fall composition ratios. USFWS
personnel ground surveyed 100 acres on the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife
Refuge and found no deer carcasses. The survey was done to help explain the
low numbers of deer seen on the refuge ( 8) since the high water earlier in
November. The hope is that the deer moved to nearby high ground and will return
to the refuge soon.
Ground counts were conducted
by District Wildlife Biologist Miller and volunteer Dan Howell in the Willow
Grove and Barlow Point areas near Longview. Only 11 deer were observed, but
fawns were detected which was a very positive note. One mature buck was observed
in a herd of 5 does and fawns, hopefully we will continue to see recruitment
in the small sub population.
New Wildlife Program
Manager: Sandra Jonker joined the Region 5 Wildlife Program on November
30, 2006 and has enjoyed her first week with WDFW. Most recently Sandra served
as the assistant leader for the Bear Management Program with the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She has lived and worked in the United
States, Africa, Asia, and Europe on a variety of wildlife, habitat, and human-wildlife
issues that include work on game as well as endangered species. Sandra received
her International and French Baccalaureate in biology and philosophy in St.
Germain en Laye, France, and earned her B.S. and M.S. in wildlife and fisheries
biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She concluded 2 years
of academic training with the Human Dimensions of Wildlife Research Unit at
Colorado State University and then completed her Ph.D. in wildlife and fisheries
conservation at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She subsequently
served as a postdoctoral research associate with the Human Dimensions Research
Unit in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Watchable Wildlife: Waterfowl hunting is not the only reason to
visit the Shillapoo Wildlife Area this time of year. A wide number of other
species that use the area are popular with both hunter and non-hunters for viewing
purposes. On a recent monitoring visit to the site Wildlife Area, Manager Calkins
observed several raptor species including Northern Harriers, Ruffed Legged Hawks,
and Kestrels. Sandhill Cranes and Great Egrets were observed using field and
shoreline areas. Bald Eagles and Swans as well as a wide variety of other birds
are also commonly seen during the winter months and many visitors come to the
area simply to watch them in the area.
Two New Blinds Added
at Shillapoo: Habitat technician Boylan and Tony Castella, a local
volunteer working with materials provided for through a state migratory bird
stamp grant, have built and installed two new blinds on the South and Vancouver
Lake Units of the wildlife area. Most of our existing blinds are located on
the North Unit of the wildlife area and have been quite popular with waterfowl
hunters. We have felt that having the blinds located in one area may concentrate
hunters, some of whom have voiced concerns about crowding. It is hoped that
providing blinds in other areas may help to distribute the hunting effort more
evenly. Although the major use of these blinds will probably be by hunters,
they are also available for those who may want to use them for observing waterfowl
and other wildlife in the area.
at Kosmos: The Kosmos release site is still open for pheasant hunting
until December 15th; however, there are no future scheduled releases. The release
site is clearly identified with pheasant release signs from the Glenoma road.
Remember, when hunting the CWA for pheasant, steel shot is required.
Riffe Lake Water
Levels: Riffe Lake’s water levels are once again falling and
more areas of the lakeshore are being exposed. This exposure increases the likelihood
of vehicular intrusion into sensitive areas easily damaged by motor vehicle
access. The CWA staff have placed signs prohibiting motor vehicle use around
the perimeter of these sensitive areas. Please respect these signs.
Peterman Hill Unit
- Road Maintenance: CWA staff member Morris has maintained approximately
nine miles of roadside on the Peterman Hill Unit with the hydraulic arm brush
cutter. The Peterman Unit has 37 miles of gravel roads of which a large portion
is gated. Much of the road system is maintained for forest management, hunting
opportunity, and fire prevention.
Davis Lake Unit
- Hydraulic Permit: CWA staff met with Habitat Biologist Bell regarding
a plugged culvert on one of the access roads into the Davis Lake Unit. A permit
has been issued for culvert maintenance and, for now, a temporary fix will be
put into place until drier weather arrives.
Deer Range Check: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven noted range conditions for deer in the Soda
Springs Unit of the Klickitat Wildlife Area on December 8. The south-facing
slopes in the breaks of the Klickitat River Canyon are snow-free in many areas.
All other aspects in these lower elevations have 1 to 3 inches of snow. On the
plateau above the river, snow averages 3 inches deep, with a moderate crust
due to daily freeze-thaw cycles. Small areas are clear of snow in open, exposed
fields. Roads on the Soda Springs Unit are covered with compact snow and ice,
but are currently drivable
Hunters are reporting seeing
deer, and evidence of kills was observed during the range check. Three deer
hides were found in the Canyon Creek Campground, and bloody snow near the lower
end of the Sheep Canyon Rd. may indicate another kill. All hunters interviewed
this week have seen deer. One hunter, who was working the east breaks of Canyon
Creek, observed a herd of at least 40 animals, including 2 very large bucks.
Western Pond Turtle: Biologists Anderson and Van Leuven are currently conducting an evaluation of
habitat project needs for the recently acquired acreage at Sondino Ranch, Klickitat
Wildlife Area. This 32-acre parcel was acquired to provide additional protection
to WDFW's ownership of western pond turtle habitat in the Columbia River Gorge.
Proposed projects include wetland enhancement, weed control, fence building,
and meadow restoration. WDFW hopes to complete these projects with remaining
funds from an IAC grant that was used to acquire the property.
100 tundra swans and other waterfowl foraging and resting in the flood
plain of Salmon Creek in Clark County.
Wildlife Viewing: Early winter cold weather has brought numerous waterfowl into SW Washington.
Species that are relatively rare in the region have been sighted recently including
long-tailed ducks and snow geese. Tundra swans have also arrived in substantial
numbers. The birds are easily seen from the County trail system along Salmon
SW Washington Canada
Goose Season Area 2A: Those participating in SW Washington's Area 2A
goose hunting enjoyed average success during the initial hunt period. Four check
stations, where hunters are required to bring their geese for species identification,
are operated on each hunt day. The stations report a total of 285 hunters having
harvested a total of 554 geese during the hunt period spanning November 11 through
Goose hunting reopened on
December 6th and continues each Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday through January
28th 2007. 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.
Elk Body Condition
Monitoring: District 10 biologists are in the process of collecting
teeth and organs (heart and kidneys) of antlerless elk harvested this season.
The organs are visually assessed for fat levels and combined with the age and
reproductive condition of the animal to achieve an index of body condition.
Successful hunters of elk in both the Mount Saint Helen’s and Willapa
elk herds are submitting samples. While ongoing this December, 10 samples have
already been submitted from November hunters.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife
Elk count: District Wildlife biologist Miller
recently conducted a monthly survey of elk on the Mt. St. Helens mud flow. Three
hundred and twelve elk were observed, with most of the animals at the east end
of the mud flow area. Several groups of 15-20 bulls were observed as well as
a good numbers of calves. Documenting exact herd composition was not possible
due to the high winds vibrating the scope! Elk appeared to be in good condition
and no new mortalities were observed. The local high school class also reported
no mortalities on the 2 radio collared elk that they are following.
Local snow conditions: for the past two Fridays the USFS has reported 20+ inches of snow at 2000 feet
on the south side of Mt St Helens and 36 inches at 3000 feet elevation.
Palmer, Noel and Linda Lawffer with Art's elk
Dusky Goose Survey: Biologist Holman participated in the federally coordinated dusky goose survey.
The survey area included the Shillapoo State Wildlife Area, private agricultural
lands, Port of Vancouver property in the Vancouver lowlands, as well as agricultural
areas in the vicinity of Woodland. Approximately 5000 geese were located during
survey, including 147 duskies. Thirteen of the duskies were collared individuals,
4 of the 13 collar numbers were "read". Cackling Canada geese and
Taverners Canada geese dominate the wintering goose population in these areas.
Dusky goose surveys are annually conducted simultaneously throughout Southwest
Washington and Northwest Oregon by staff from WDFW, ODFW, and the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service. Photo of dusky Canada geese resting on WDFW's Shillapoo
Wildlife Area in the Vancouver lowlands can be seen to the right.
Mt. St. Helens Mudflow
"C" Hunt: Consistent with the objectives and methods outlined
in the recently released Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Plan, additional elk hunting
has been allowed on WDFW's St. Helens Wildlife Area. Five additional hunters
were selected from the pool of unsuccessful applicants for the Mudflow "A"
and "B" elk hunts for those with disabilities. Clark County elk hunter
Art Palmer was selected for the hunt and Mr. Palmer made the most of the quality
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife
Coverage: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins was interviewed by KATU news
(Portland) on the Mt. St. Helens State Wildlife Area last week. The interview
included questions concerning habitat on the wildlife area in light of recent
flooding, winter conditions for elk so far this winter, and the new elk herd
and wildlife area plans. Winter conditions this year have been colder and wetter
than average, which does raise a concern for elk in the valley. Calkins noted
that, due to the current conditions, discussions about winter feeding are occurring.
WDFW is monitoring the elk and has implemented special hunts to harvest some
of the animals to help reduce the pressure on the winter range. The wildlife
area will also be closed to public access to reduce stress and energy expended
by elk, which they need to survive the winter. It is not known at this time
when the story will air.
Region 5 Post-Season
Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman conducted a ground-based survey of the
post-hunting season deer herd in GMU 382 (East Klickitat). The survey resulted
in a total of 428 deer classified. The fawn to doe ratio was 62:100 and the
buck to doe ratio was 10 to 100. The total number of deer observed during the
effort was significantly higher than those of recent years; the fawn ratio was
very similar, while the buck ratio has declined.
Although located in Region 5, GMU 382 is managed as a mule-deer area, with a
three-point or larger antler restriction for all user-groups. A post-hunting
season goal of 15 bucks per 100 does has been established as a statewide benchmark
per the Game Management Plan. Post-season survey efforts in each of the past
three years had resulted in buck to doe ratios consistent with this goal. However,
the GMU was previously hunted under a nine-day general rifle season. For the
2006-08 3-year hunting season package, a 14-day general rifle season has been
implemented. This survey raises the possibility that the new season structure
may be resulting in inadequate hunting-season escapement in GMU 382. Post-season
surveys of the deer population in GMU 382 will continue in future years.
Mt. St. Helens Mudflow
Hunt Update: The second group of permit holders began their hunt on
the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on December 19th. To date, 15 permit holders
have taken part in the special hunts and we currently believe that most of them
have been successful in harvesting an elk. The hunt for disabled hunters, which
is open only to special permit holders drawn from the existing pool of applicants,
was initiated to harvest additional animals as a measure to reduce pressure
on the winter range and possibly winter mortality on the site. A third, and
final, group of hunters is scheduled to begin hunting on December 26th. Many
of these hunters have submitted organ samples for assessing body condition of
the elk. A preliminary assessment appears to show that the cow elk were in good
condition. However, results will not be conclusive until the final evaluation
has been conducted after all the hunts have been completed.
Columbia Gorge Conservation: Biologist Anderson attended a workshop sponsored by the Columbia Land
Trust (CLT), a nonprofit land conservation organization working in the lower
Columbia River region. The focus of the meeting was to prioritize future conservation
work in the Columbia River Gorge by the CLT, including land purchases and conservation
easements. Following the meeting, it was agreed upon that the Klickitat River
drainage ranked high on the list of critical areas to target conservation efforts
due to its importance as fish and wildlife habitat.