Southwest - Region 5
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
excluding legal holidays

Telephone (360) 696-6211
Fax (360) 906-6776

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
February 2006

February 6, 2006


Mount Saint Helen's Wildlife Area Elk Mortality Survey– The first ground survey of the Mount Saint Helen's Wildlife Area was completed last week. The purpose is to search for elk mortalities as a gauge of winter severity. WDFW Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Wildlife Biologist Woodin and Toutle High School Science Teacher Cal Buker were assisted by 14 Environmental Studies students in a partial search of the Toutle mudflow area.

The process involves walking each zone and visually inspecting the entire area for elk carcasses. Each mortality is inspected to determine age, sex, and condition of the animal. The location is also documented using global positioning system (GPS).

Four of eight zones on the mudflow were searched for mortalities. those zones were selected based on their previous history of containing higher numbers of elk mortalities. Five mortalities that had been previously discovered were documented. No additional mortalities were found.

Potential Hoof Rot in Elk– A few reports of elk having feet shaped like "elf hooves" have occurred recently in Cowlitz County. In one case the hoof was collected and will be submitted to Washington State University for analysis. Hoof rot has not yet been proven by analysis to occur in Southwest Washington, although it has been suspected for some time. In addition to misshapen hooves, symptoms of this condition include limping and eventually inability to get up and walk.

Three Year Hunting Season Package– District 10 provided input this week on damage hunts in the northern portion of the region. The Wildlife enforcement program develops hunt proposals that are reviewed and approved by the Wildlife Program to deal with elk damage in various part of the SW Washington. New hunts of '06 will continue to emphasize the long duration, short intensity type of hunting program that has been successful in the Gray's River area.

Goose Season Wind-up– Travel trailer was returned to the Merwin Hatchery after use at the Ridgefield Marina. Data entry is still taking place for this years season but harvest does not look very high. The reduction in cackler bag limit is probably the reason.

Aircraft Safety– District Wildlife Biologist Miller participated in an Aircraft Safety Committee meeting in Ephrata. There were several unresolved issues from the discussions at the recent Program school and we attempted to resolve these issues plus edit the SOP. Meeting went reasonably well and a new draft for Administrative review will be produced soon.

February 13


Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Pesticide Applicator Recertification–
Assistant Manager Richard Vanderlip attended the two-day pesticide recertification class. This meets his recertification obligations for the 2006 recertification period.

Oxbow Lake Gate Breach– Habitat Technician Casey Morris tank trapped the sides of the access gate at Oxbow Lake after enforcement discovered that an individual(s) had driven around the gate. It is possible that the breach occurred in order for waterfowl hunters to drop their boats off at he lake’s edge.

Watchable Wildlife– The bald eagles have returned to the Tilton River forested corridor across the highway from the Cowlitz Wildlife Area office and on the flats at the east end of Riffe Lake. Early morning visits should be fruitful.

Recreation Information: Riffe Lake Water Levels– Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday at 1-888-502-8690.


Townsend's Big-eared Bat Hibernation Surveys– Biologist Holman assisted U.S. Forest Service Staff and volunteers with a survey of caves known to be used as winter hibernation sites by Townsend's big-eared bats. Townsend's bats are listed as Candidates for listing in the State of Washington and are a Species of Concern at the Federal level. The number of bats located on the survey was slightly lower than historical records, however, the entrance to one significant cave couldn't be located due to snow cover.

Townsend's bats spend the winter inside of caves and in a state of hibernation. The bats allow their body temperature to drop to the ambient cave temperature, thus greatly reducing their metabolic rate. Through this means, the bats are able to survive several months of not feeding. During this period, the bats may loose more than half of their body weight. Disturbance of the bats during their winter hibernation period can be fatal as fat and energy reserves must last the animals until spring. Anyone who finds caves while hiking or exploring Washington during the winter months is reminded not to enter the caves and disturb this important and very sensitive species.

Camera monitoring station. Camera monitoring station.
Routine maintenance on camera monitoring stations was conducted last week. The infrared-triggered camera stations are used to keep track of Columbian white-tailed deer that were released onto Fisher Island in the Columbia River over the past three years. Columbia white-tailed doe.

Columbian White-tailed Deer– Routine maintenance on camera monitoring stations was conducted by District Biologist Miller and Wildlife Biologist Woodin last week. The infrared-triggered camera stations are used to keep track of Columbian white-tailed deer that were released onto Fisher Island in the Columbia River over the past three years.

Coincidentally, biologists with the US Fish and Wildlife Service were conducting aerial surveys for Columbian white-tailed deer using Forward-looking Infrared (FLIR) technology. They located 10 deer on Fisher Island while the camera stations were being serviced. The two types of monitoring (camera and FLIR) enhance each other since the FLIR cannot differentiate between Columbian white-tailed and black-tailed deer.

An additional release is planned for this March, to supplement previous releases. The ultimate goal is to reach sustaining populations of Columbian white-tailed deer on multiple islands in the Lower Columbia River.

Outreach/Education– Biologist Anderson is working with the USFWS, USFS and Oregon Zoo in sponsoring an Americorps intern for this next year. The plan is for the intern to assist with sandhill crane, Oregon spotted frog and western pond turtle field activities this spring and summer. During this same period the intern will develop an education program to take into local schools during the fall of 2006. The education program will focus on conservation issues associated with the three wildlife species the intern worked with the previous spring and summer. In addition, the intern will develop a program for volunteers in the community to assist with these projects.


Wildlife Manager Fred Dobler and Stacie Kelsy staff the agency booth at the Pacific NW Sportsman's Show.
Wildlife Manager Fred Dobler and Stacie Kelsy staff the agency booth at the Pacific NW Sportsman's Show.

Pacific NW Sportsman's Show– Region 4 Wildlife Program staff assisted with other agency staff in participating at the International Sportsman Show in Portland, OR. This event is always well attended by the public and is a good opportunity to discuss our programs.

Elk Management: Trout Lake Firearm Restriction– Biologist Anderson has been working with local landowners in the Trout Lake valley to develop a plan for firearm restrictions associated with the general and late elk hunts. Many complaints have been made this year about residential safety issues and elk damage. Agency staff are working with landowners to develop a plan for addressing both issues.

February 21, 2006


Older elk cow that died in pasture.
Deformed elk hoof.
Investigation of a reported dead elk in Cowlitz County revealed an older cow with one deformed hoof.

Elk Mortality– Investigation of a reported dead elk in Cowlitz County revealed an older cow with one deformed hoof. District Biologist Miller and Wildlife Biologist Woodin examined an elk cow that had died two days earlier in a citizen's pasture. See how quickly coyotes and other scavenging species avail themselves of this food source in image to right.

The elk had extensive tooth wear and red gelatinous bone marrow in the femur indicating and older cow in poor condition. She also had one deformed hind hoof which was removed and may be tested for hoof rot and other hoof deformity diseases.

WDFW has gotten a higher than average number of reports of elk with deformed hooves this winter. One animal with deformed hooves that was tested for hoof disease was inconclusive. Additional testing will be conducted, but is complicated by the requirement that tissue samples must be taken immediately upon death of the animal.

3 Year Hunting Season Setting– Regional Wildlife Program Staff worked on the finalization of our proposals for the 2006-2008 hunting season. Following identification of these proposals, Staff worked diligently on various edits, reviews and modifications of the proposals to prepare for submission to Olympia. Game Management Staff from Olympia will then review and finalize all Statewide proposals and present them to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at the April meeting.

February 27, 2006


Wahkiakum County Fire District 4 adopted the access site at the Beaver Creek Hatchery Complex.
Wahkiakum County Fire District 4 adopted the access site at the Beaver Creek Hatchery Complex.

Adopt an Access: Beaver Creek– The Wahkiakum County Fire District 4 has a satellite facility next to our access site at the Beaver Creek Hatchery Complex. Volunteer fire fighter Shannon Wills asked Lands Agent chuck Leidy about the site, saying that they needed a place to park when they held meetings at the fire hall. He told her that if the fire district would adopt the access and maintain it, WDFW would agree to allow them to park there. It's a little quid pro quo.


Columbian White tailed deer Recovery Team Meeting– District Wildlife Biologist Miller attended the CWTD Recovery Team meeting as the Washington representative. The meeting reviewed the recent events and populations status of both the Roseburg, Oregon and Lower Columbia River Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of the CWTD. The Roseburg population has been de-listed by both the USFWS and ODFW. The monitoring plan for the Roseburg population is still in draft form but many of the important functions are being carried out. Some landowner activities have not taken place and the USFWS and the Recovery team may be involved in sending correspondence to the landowner to increase habitat improvements and protection for the deer.

The situation for the LCR DPS is more tenuous. Trend data shows a decline in total deer numbers and recruitment of young is not very good. Predation of fawns continues to be a problem. The Team suggested that long term predator control may be required for this population to ever flourish. As a comparison, the Roseburg area has had predator control in place since the 1960's and that may be one of the factors that has allowed that population to increase to the 5-6,000 animals now present. The predator control is directed at coyotes that are preying on livestock. Increases in habitat that are set aside for the deer is very encouraging. The cooperative project underway to expand the deer's range is also a bright spot to create a 3rd stable secure viable sub population.

The general feeling of the Team was that the LCR may not be recovered at this time.

USFWS will be discussing a de-listing proposal and proposing funding the assist the LCR population in achieving population recovery.


California Bighorn Sheep.
California Bighorn Sheep.
Photo by WDFW biologist, Patterson

Bighorn Sheep Habitat Evaluation– Special Species Section Manager Martorello, District 9 Biologist Anderson, Wenatchee District Biologist Patterson, WA Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep member Jerry Tyrrell and Biologist Holman conducted a field visit to evaluate potential bighorn sheep habitat in Region 5. GIS work indicated that two areas in the eastern portion of Region 5 may offer a suitable mix of Escape Terrain, Lambing Range and Foraging habitat for California bighorns. The sheep require steep slopes including cliffs, rock outcroppings and other complex topography relatively close to south facing hills upon which to feed along with unobstructed access to permanent water. The field visit helped to substantiate that a large area in the upper Klickitat River appears to be suitable sheep habitat. Additional, more detailed analysis of the area will follow.

Bighorn sheep reintroductions have been attempted in this area previously and remnant animals from those efforts are thought to persist in the vicinity of the earlier releases. In 1970, eight bighorns were released in the area. The final animal from this release is thought to have died after being hit by a vehicle in May of 1975. In 1995, a reintroduction of several animals was again conducted. Again very small numbers of sheep were released and the population has not grown. However, in spite of the small founding population, bighorns persist in the upper Klickitat. Specifically, District Biologist Anderson observed a ewe and a lamb in the summer of 2004 and a group of 3-4 rams was observed by a local resident in 2005.

Current, specific locations of any bighorn sheep in the vicinity of the upper Klickitat River are desired by WDFW. Anyone with information on sheep sightings in this area within the past 12 months is encouraged to call WDFW Region 5 at 360-696-6211 with any details they can provide.