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.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
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
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.
Riffe Lake Water Levels– Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other
recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
of a reported dead elk in Cowlitz County revealed an older cow with one
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
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.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
County Fire District 4 adopted the access site at the Beaver Creek Hatchery
Adopt an Access: Beaver
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.
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.