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Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
June 2006

June 5, 2006

DIVERSITY DIVISION

One effect of the high water level in Pierce Lake is that water backed up into the old Beaver Pond.
One effect of the high water level in Pierce Lake is that water backed up into the old Beaver Pond.

Western Pond Turtles: Turtle trapping has been completed at Pierce National Wildlife Refuge. Results during the last week of trapping were down from the previous two weeks. Water was very high in all ponds, creeks, and sloughs, and showery weather discouraged turtles from basking. One effect of the high water level in Pierce Lake is that water backed up into the old Beaver Pond. The results for the third week's activity were: 44 western pond turtles; 5 western painted turtles

GAME DIVISION

Bighorn Sheep: Biologist Anderson reported 4 bighorn sheep located in the Klickitat River Canyon north of the Klickitat Wildlife Area. One of the sheep was a female that still had its radio collar. The other 3 appeared to be offspring from the original herd. The sheep were originally released in 1998 in an effort to establish a herd in the Klickitat drainage. The confirmation of these sheep is encouraging as regional staff are considering the possibility of another release into this area in the near future.

Waterfowl Project Field Trip: District Wildlife Biologist Miller met with local DU staff and landowners of Canvasback Lake in northern Clark County. Miller was contacted by the landowners to try to facilitate communication between DU biologists and the landowners. The meeting purpose was to evaluate the property for planting recommendations and large scale project potential. Charles Lobdell, local DU biologist,had some previous knowledge of the property and will help with planting recommendations for the near future. Further evaluation of the hydrology will be required to determine if a larger scale project can be developed to improve duck production and wintering habitat for a variety of species including sandhill cranes, swans and other waterfowl. DU will call another meeting to share potential for the site for other grant projects.

A volunteer holds a Dark Canada Goose gosling.
An example from a previous year's banding effort of a gosling that is too small to hold a neck collar.

Resident Canada Geese: District Biologist Miller and Wildlife Biologist Woodin conducted a survey of resident dark Canada goose broods on the Lower Columbia River last week. This effort is part of the preparation for banding. The goal is to ensure that the young will be large enough to hold a band and/or neck collar. See image to the right from a previous year's banding effort for an example of a gosling that is too small to hold a neck collar.

Last week's survey found nine broods totalling 43 goslings at 20-25 days old. Another two broods totaling 8 goslings were slightly older, and one brood of 5 goslings was slightly younger. This confirms the timing for the scheduled banding effort and the end of June.

The emphasis of this effort is on Washington's resident western and dusky sub-species hybrids. These birds are intermediary in terms of color and size from their parent genetics and can measure out as a dusky during hunting season, possibly resulting in a hunter loosing their hunting privileges in Southwest Washington. However, by definition a true dusky breeds on the Copper River Delta in Alaska. By banding these birds they can be identified as local birds and not true duskies. Efforts such as this have been maintained by Federal and State Fish and Wildife Agencies to protect the dusky sub-species while allowing for hunter opportunity.

June 12, 2006

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Under the direction of District Biologist Anderson and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Staff, Biologists Holman and VanLeuven have undertaken an effort to locate western pond turtles on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge, located in northwestern Clark County is within the historic range of the western pond turtle. The turtles were thought to be extirpated from this portion of their range until a single animal was captured by a Refuge volunteer in the fall of 2006.

The northern portion of the Refuge features a relatively large area of suitable habitat featuring complex wetlands interspersed with uplands and islands of basalt rock. The thin well-drained soils on the uplands support plant communities that typify the best pond turtle nesting habitat. Specifically, the uplands are vegetated primarily with dried grasses, Oregon white oak, wild rose, snowberry and poison oak with a limited amount of non-native blackberry. Thus far, the trapping effort has documented only western painted turtles.

Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: The turtle-related visits to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge by Biologists Holman and VanLeuven have offered the opportunity for several interesting wildlife observations. Species located has included western painted turtles, red-legged frogs, tree frogs, garter snakes, cedar waxwings, snowy egrets, great blue-herons, many species of ducks (the cinnamon teal are especially nice), Canada geese, kingfishers, goldfinches, yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, osprey, nutria, muskrat, coyotes and black-tailed deer. Those interested in a wildlife viewing visit to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge should call the Refuge office at 360-887-4106.

An eagle on its nest surveyed from helicopter. Two young eagles in advanced stage of feathered growth.
An eagle on its nest surveyed from helicopter. Two young eagles in advanced stage
of feathered growth.

Bald Eagle Nesting Survey: Wildlife Biologist Woodin participated in a survey of Bald Eagle nestlings on the Lower Columbia River last week. This survey was conducted by Frank Isaacs of Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, with the aid of Bob Anderson of Oregon State University, and Pilot Franz Bergtold.

Of the 45 nests surveyed, two thirds had young. The image to the right of an adult eagle with its eaglets shows what a nest looks like from the helicopter. Of all the nests that did produce young, 59 percent had two young while 38 percent had one young, and a single nest contained three young. The other image is of a nest containing two young in advanced stage of feather growth.

Bald eagle productivity is much lower on the Columbia River from Cathlamet downstream is much lower than upstream. Only 44 percent of the nests had young in the Cathlamet and downstream section, whereas upstream 94 percent of nests surveyed had young. The reason for this is not known.

June 26, 2006

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Watchable Wildlife: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald had an unusual sighting of a single sandhill crane on the South Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area last week. We will be watching for this bird and will try to determine if it is a Greater (breeding populations in the Columbia Gorge), or a Lesser or Canadian Sandhill Crane. The differences between the three varieties are very subtle. Hauswald and Technician Ridenauer also located a single Great Blue Heron nest on the property boundary of the Vancouver Lake Unit while doing a weed survey. This is the first known nesting by Great Blue Herons south of Vancouver Lake in quite a few years. The site is very close to a former rookery on property now owned by the Port of Vancouver that once had close to 100 nests.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Under the direction of District Biologist Anderson and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Staff, Biologists Holman and VanLeuven have completed the June effort to locate western pond turtles on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge, located in northwestern Clark County is within the historic range of the western pond turtle. The turtles were thought to be extirpated from this portion of their range until a single animal was captured by a Refuge volunteer in the fall of 2005.

The northern portion of the Refuge features a relatively large area of suitable habitat featuring complex wetlands interspersed with uplands and islands of basalt rock. The thin well-drained soils on the uplands support plant communities that typify the best pond turtle nesting habitat. Specifically, the uplands are vegetated primarily with dried grasses, Oregon white oak, wild rose, snowberry, oceanspray and poison oak with a limited amount of non-native blackberry. The lack of quality nesting habitat is often thought to be a significant limiting factor for the pond turtles, this does not appear to be the case on the Refuge.

In spite of the habitat quality, no western pond turtles were captured during the 9-day trapping sequence. The trapping effort was conducted from June 8 through 16 with, 19 traps (10 baited hoop traps and 9 basking traps), placed within the Carty Unit. A total of 18 western painted turtle captures were recorded during the effort with zero re-captures of the same individual turtle. An additional effort to further document western pond turtles on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is tentatively scheduled for late summer - early fall.

GAME DIVISION

Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd and Wildlife Area Plans Public Open House: The first open house to review the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd and Wildlife Area Plans was held on Wednesday June 21st. Approximately 25 people attended the meeting including State Representative Ed Orcutt and Fish and Wildlife Commission Chair Ron Ozment. After a brief introduction individuals who attended had the opportunity to discuss the plan with district biologists and provide comments in an informal atmosphere. By far the primary focus of concern we heard was limitation of access to private forest lands for hunters which has become far more restricted in recent years. Other concerns included elk damage and some desired liberalizing seasons in the Margaret, Toutle and Loowit GMU's.

Lewis County Elk Mediation: District Biologist Miller attended a meeting of the Lewis County arbitration board to attempt to resolve conflicts between WDFW and a small landowner group in Lewis County. Miller was able to provide information on hunting seasons and how Wildlife Management can assist in reducing elk numbers on private property if access to the public is allowed. Landowners concerned about safety and liability prefer to select who can hunt their property. This limitation reduces the ability of Wildlife Management to help this group of landowners. Wildlife Enforcement may allow lethal removal of a limited number of animals with a Permit to Kill that is issued to the landowner and the elk is provided to charity. Goal for WDFW is to reduce the damage and not eliminate the elk herd.