Injured Bald Eagle– Last week, an adult bald eagle was found unable to fly in Lewis and Clark
State Park in Lewis County. WDFW Sargent Holden assisted by Wildlife Biologist
Woodin and State Parks Ranger Lipparelli safely captured the eagle. It was then
transported it to a veterinarian authorized for Wildlife Rehabilitation where
the eagle was evaluated. No apparent injury like broken bones or bullet/pellets
were found. The eagle was then placed in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility
with fight cages large enough for an eagle. It is hoped that this bird will
soon recover and regain it's flight capacities so it can be returned to the
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife
Area Elk Winter Monitoring– Wildlife Area Manager Calkins conducted
a third count of elk using the mudflow portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife
Area on December 30. Human disturbance probably affected this count. A hiker
was seen walking the road through the area. The person was headed west from
the ford crossing about half way up the valley. Because elk were present near
the road a short distance beyond (east of) the ford it is assumed that he had
turned around at that point. There were no elk present on the mudflow west of
the ford. Mixed rain and snow was falling on arrival at the visitor center but
stopped during the count. There was no snow on the ground, temperature was 40
degrees with a SE wind of 5-13 mph. Conditions in the valley were 44 degrees
with an east wind averaging 7 mph. A note of interest is that an adult bald
eagle was seen soaring over the valley.
A total of 108 elk were
seen in the survey area that included 19 on the south side of the river. 102
of these were classified including 8 calves, 48 cows, 8 spikes and 38 bulls.
Since these were all at the east end of the area it is probable that the number
of elk using the site is higher than that number. Calkins estimates that during
the first two counts about 2/3 of the animals seen were at this east end so
it is possible that the number of elk using the area has dropped but we cannot
Mid Winter Waterfowl
Inventory– District Wildlife Biologist Miller completed the Wahkiakum
county portion of the statewide mid-winter waterfowl inventory. Conditions preceding
the count dramatically influenced duck number and distribution in the WDFW portion
of the count. One the week and weekend prior to the survey, heavy rain and wind
produced flooding conditions that shifted duck use to waters not in the survey
or entirely out of the survey area. Only 46 ducks were observed, the majority
were Hooded Mergansers and Greater Scaup. A few flocks of geese were also observed.
Data will be forwarded to Olympia for inclusion in the report for the Pacific
Wildlife Biologist Woodin's
waterfowl survey effort in Lewis County yielded a nice array of species. Plentiful
rainfall had created ponded areas in fields throughout the county providing
waterfowl many choices for food and rest. The most numerous puddle duck species
seen were 3,032 pintails, 2,310 widgeon, 706 green-winged teal, 411 mallards
and 230 shovelers. Diving ducks seen were 306 ring-necked ducks, 77 bufflehead,
and 35 scaup. Of the 1,313 Canada geese observed, most were western or cackler
sub-species. Also, a single snow goose was seen in one flock of Canada geese.
And finally, 26 Trumpeter swans were seen in the Lower Newaukum River Valley.
Biologist Holman completed
the mid-winter waterfowl survey from the mouth of the Washougal River, up the
Columbia to Bonneville dam. The results of the survey tallied: 1,023 ducks (primarily
scaup on the Columbia and mallards on Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge),
1,274 Canada geese (mostly cacklers on Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge)
and 30 swans (24 of which were identified as tundra swans on Franz Lake National
Wildlife Refuge). This year's survey included nearly identical numbers of ducks
but roughly double the number of geese, compared to the 2005 survey. Note that
this year the swans were found feeding on the main lake directly in front of
the observation point at Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes the
swans are found in the small pond at the western end of Beacon Rock State Park.
Those interested in viewing the swans should try each location.
Mount St Helens Wildlife
Area Elk Survey– District Biologist Miller conducted a survey of elk
numbers in compliance with the winter monitoring plan for elk on the Wildlife
Area. Winds were fairly brisk and made composition of elk impossible. At total
of 62 elk were observed in 3 groups at the east end of the WA. The count may
have been influenced by the presence of people on the mud flow which might have
spooked the elk and sent them into cover in the area adjoining the WA.
A local high school class
is being recruited to help with these surveys . They are presently monitoring
radio telemetry signals for 3 elk in the valley bottom and will add conducting
a total count on the mud flow to that effort. If they observed mortalities,
they will contact WDFW and we will examine the carcass with the students to
determine cause of death.
Region 5 Post-Season
Deer Surveys– Biologists Holman, Woodin and Anderson along with Klickitat
Wildlife Area Manager Ellenburg conducted ground-based surveys of the post-hunting
season deer herd in GMUs 382 (East Klickitat) and 588 (Grayback). In GMU 382,
the survey resulted in a total of 165 deer classified. The fawn to doe ratio
was 57:100 and the buck to doe ratio was 15 to 100. In GMU 588, a total of 364
deer were classified. The fawn to doe ratio was 59 to 100 and the buck to doe
ratio was 2 to 100.
A post-hunting season goal
of 15 bucks per 100 does has been established as a state-wide benchmark per
the Game Management Plan. Note that 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 and a nine-day general rifle season. GMU is also predominantly
private property. The survey reveals that this management strategy and ownership
pattern is resulting in adequate hunting-season escapement in GMU 382.
In contrast, GMU 588 is
managed under a two-point antler restriction and has roughly double the number
of general hunting season days. Additionally, GMU 588 has lots of accessible
public (Klickitat Wildlife Area) and timber company owned lands. The results
of this survey indicate that our current management of this deer population
is failing to meet the buck escapement goal. This is the second consecutive
year that the post-season survey has revealed buck to doe ratios of less than
the goal and the average has been just 8 bucks per 100 over the past three years.
WDFW is proposing alternatives
that would modify hunting seasons in an effort to address this management concern
and improve hunting opportunity. Those interested in learning more about the
proposed changes to deer management in GMU 588, other Regional hunting-related
alternatives and a variety of statewide issues are encouraged to attend the
upcoming public meeting. The meeting will be January 17th, at 7pm in the Water
Resources Center at 4600 SE Columbia Way.
Marked Cackling Canada
Goose– On January 4, a hunter came to the Woodland goose hunting check
station with a cackling Canada goose that had a metal clip in the webbing of
its right foot. No other marking on the goose was apparent, i.e. no neck collar
or leg band. The tag was 02 on the underside and 047 on the upper side. Biologist
VanLeuven recognized the markings and passed the information along. Craig Ely
of the U.S. Geological Service identified the markings and offered the following
reply to WDFW, "Thanks for sending along the information on the web-tagged
cackling Canada goose. The bird was tagged on 20 June 2002 at our study site
along the Kashunuk River, outer Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta, Alaska. For a number
of years we placed metal webtags on hatched, or nearly-hatched goslings (as
is the case for 02-047) to monitor movements of goslings from nest sites to
brood rearing areas, and to determine gosling growth rates (a portion of the
web-tagged birds are captured again just before fledging; the growth rate from
time of hatch until recapture some 40 days later gives us a measure of forage
conditions). Thanks again for the information. Craig". This is a good example
of interagency coordination on waterfowl management and good recognition by
Deer Relocation Project– Planning continues for a late March relocation
of Columbian White-tailed Deer to Fisher Island and other local areas. As a
result of the past mortality problem with this project, several changes have
been implemented. New hobbles, blindfolds and transport bags are being secured.
Crews experienced in handling animals will be used to prevent stress build up
on the deer after they are captured in drive nets. This is a cooperative project
with USFWS, ODFW and WDFW.
Three-year Package Public
Mtg: Goldendale– Biologist Anderson joined a meeting with the Klickitat
Cattleman's Assoc. to get input on deer management in Klickitat County. They
thought about 15 would show up and it ended up with 30. These folks are all
landowners and a good portion are hunters. David used prepared material to provide
background information on the Gorge units. He provided handouts of a PPT presentation
on Grayback deer and also used slides on genetics provided by Science Division
Biologist Ken Warheit.
There was little discussion
or concern about season structure, antler point restrictions etc. They did not
have concerns with or question the biology we presented. These folks are more
concerned about hunter trespass and damage. Most everybody feels that the doe
population is too large as these animals are camping out in small herds on their
alfalfa fields. The general consensus is that we need to have in place a way
for landowners to deal with damage.
Most people like the idea
of permit hunting for all of GMU 588 as they feel there are too many hunters
and trespass is a big problem, especially on their lands adjacent to the Klickitat
Wildlife Area. Some would like to see us have permit only hunting for the wildlife
area as an option. Using antlerless permit holders to deal with damage on private
lands was discussed. To David's surprise the majority of people liked the idea
of permit hunters contacting (willing) landowners for access. We assumed that
landowners would prefer that WDFW provide landowners with a list of willing
hunters to contact. Their argument was that if a hunter is serious about coming
to their property, they will call. The landowner can then determine when they
participate. Of course most landowners liked the landowner damage permit options
that WDFW is proposing.
Manager Fred Dobler (right) at public meeting with Vancouver area archers.
Three-year Package Public
Mtg: Vancouver Archers– Wildlife Manager Dobler was contacted by
a local archer who took issue with the WDFW proposal to change archery opportunity
in the Grayback unit (GMU 588). Dobler agreed to meet with all who would come
to discuss this and other local issues, and a meeting was set for Jan. 10, 2006.
When it became clear that only a few archers were likely to make this meeting
the invitation was extended to the Vancouver Wildlife League, Cowlitz Game and
Anglers, and Yacolt Burn Sportsmen's group through their respective chairmen.
The meeting was lightly
attended but those present were very attentive and felt strongly about the issues.
Background information was provided with a series of PowerPoint presentations
highlighting each of the local issues. The only issue that fueled much discussion
was the reduction of opportunity for archers in GMU 588. Most present said that
they had seen plenty of bucks during the late archery season, and did not believe
that our surveys could be right. (Our recent post-season surveys indicated very
low buck:doe ratios in GMU 588.) I expect that we will hear more of this opinion
during the upcoming meeting on the 17th of January.
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife
Area Elk Monitoring– A survey of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
by Biologist Miller provided little new information about numbers. He observed
two people walking the center road and this disturbance no doubt had influence
on the elk present. Only 63 elk were counted. In conjunction with their radio-tracking
work, the Toutle High School FFA volunteered to scan the area visible from the
Weyerhaeuser Visitor Center viewpoint to help locate winter mortalities. They
observed one mortality last week. The one mortality does not cause us concern
at this time nor trigger any action. The carcass will be evaluated the next
time WDFW staff is on the wildlife area.
Egret spotted in Woodland, Washington.
Watchable Wildlife: Great
Egret in Woodland– Jan Webster, one of the Region 5 front desk staff,
reported the following observation:
"I had the fortunate
experience of watching a Great Egret from my yard in Woodland Washington. I
live across the street from a schoolyard and he dropped in for a couple of hours
of feeding. I witnessed through binoculars him/her feeding on night crawlers.
He would forage for a bit and then hop to another “good spot” for
another time of feasting. He spent a couple of hours making his way around the
whole schoolyard. My husband did not work the next day and had the opportunity
to view him once again foraging in the schoolyard. This took place on Sunday
January 8 and 9, 2006."
Area 2a Canada Goose
Season– Only one week remains in the general Canada Goose season
for area 2a. To date hunters have taken 1,547 geese and only 25 geese have been
counted towards the dusky quota. One zone, Ridgefield Refuge, has closed after
filling their zone quota. All others remain open. The final day of the season
is Sunday January 29th.
| Flooding in west Lewis and north Cowlitz counties during December curtailed
some of the survey areas.
Dusky Canada Goose Survey– The second of two surveys for the Dusky subspecies of Canada goose was
completed last week. The first survey took place in mid-December. Biologists
all over Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon conduct this survey to aid
in monitoring this subspecies of Canada geese.
West Lewis County and a
small part of north Cowlitz County was covered by Wildlife Biologist Woodin.
A total of 443 Canada geese were seen in December with observations of Tavener's,
western, cackler, and lesser subspecies. In January, the total jumped up to
1,902 geese with the same subspecies represented. Of note was the flooding which
curtailed some of the survey areas.
Biologist Holman also participated
the federally coordinated dusky goose survey. The survey area included the Shillapoo
State Wildlife Area in the Vancouver lowlands, and agricultural areas in the
vicinity of Woodland. Thousands of geese were located during survey, primarily
cackling Canada geese on the Port of Vancouver owned lands. Two flocks of dusky
geese were located including a flock feeding aquatically in a WDFW owned pond
on the Wildlife Area and a flock feeding in harvested corn near Woodland. The
survey totaled 57 duskies with 14 neck-collared birds. All collars were successfully
read and recorded. 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.
The wintering dusky goose
surveys and collar reading efforts are a portion of the methods used to estimate
the total number of dusky Canada geese. The dusky goose population is currently
estimated at approximately 15,000 individuals. As many as 25,000 dusky geese
historically wintered in the area while other species of geese were far less
common than they are today.
Three-Year Big Game
Season Setting– On Tuesday January 17th, Wildlife Program hosted a
public meeting regarding the 3-year hunting season setting process. Regional
Manager Norman, Wildlife Program Manager Dobler, Biologists Anderson, Woodin
and Holman, Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager Ellenburg, Enforcement Captain Schlenker,
Sergeants Webb and Holden and Customer Service Specialist Gonzalez represented
Region 5. Game Division Manager Ware, Deer and Elk Section Manager Nelson, Migratory
Bird Section Manager Kraege and Special Species Section Manager Martorello represented
the Game Division.
The meeting was well-visited
with about 100 attendees. State-wide issues generated little interest in the
mostly-local crowd. In contrast, proposed changes to local hunting opportunities
generated considerable energy. Participants were able to interact freely with
Regional and Olympia Staff regarding their particular interest. Informational
materials, power-point presentations, educational displays were available as
well. The majority of those in attendance agree that the issues which have risen
to the forefront during this season-setting effort warrant attention and some
management change. However, there is little agreement or consensus regarding
solutions to these complex issues.
Additional public input
is helpful. Interested parties should take a few minutes to fill out the newest
version of the on-line Hunting
Season Setting Survey available on the WDFW Website.
5 Deer Productivity
Survey Results: 1995-2005
image to enlarge ]
Black-tailed Deer Management– Biologist Holman summarized the Regional deer herd composition data for
2005. This year's pre-season deer survey efforts by both volunteers and WDFW
staff resulted in the classification of 585 blacktails. The lack of funding
to conduct aerial deer surveys in 2005 made volunteer survey efforts especially
important this year. Of particular note are the contributions of The Campbell
Group's foresters in GMU 530, SDS Lumber Company's foresters in GMU 578 and
the U.S. Forest Service's efforts in the Cascade Mountain GMUs. Thanks to all
those that helped.
The data gained from the
above-referenced effort is used as one of the inputs into the Region's Sex,
Age, Kill method of deer population estimation. Per the requirements of the
Game Management Plan and WDFW's mission statement, we are to manage black-tailed
deer in the Region in such a way as to not negatively impact the overall population
i.e. not reduce the deer population. This presents a significant challenge given
many contributing factors that are detrimental to deer at a landscape level.
These include; the spread of suburbia into areas of quality deer habitat, conversion
of agricultural areas to industrial-residential uses, a variety of forest-practices
related changes including the cessation of timber cutting on federal lands,
use of herbicides on forest plantations, road construction, etc., the onset
of the hairloss syndrome in the mid-1990's, and our statutory requirement to
respond to "damage". Quantification of biological data related to
the deer population allows us to set appropriate hunting seasons amidst the
backdrop of the many factors affecting the population that we are not able to
The primary focus of the
productivity surveys is to determine the annual recruitment of young animals
into the population, or fawn to doe ratio. The 2005 fawn to doe ratio of 55
fawns per 100 does documents the third year in a row of slightly improved ratios
following the recruitment low-point of 44 fawns per 100 does recorded in 2002.
In spite of this short-term improvement, productivity is still below the levels
recorded during the late 1990s. Please see the attached figure for an illustration
of the 11-year history of summer productivity surveys for black-tailed deer
in Region 5.