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
September 2006

September 11, 2006


Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson is currently working with Bonneville Power Administration staff to develop a budget and scope of work for fiscal year 2007. It appears that funding will be secured for another year to continue with our population enhancement in the Columbia River Gorge.

Field staff have started to check for hatchling juvenile WPT's from this years nesting. Due to dry conditions, several sites may be dug earlier than normal to prevent mortality of turtle eggs. Past experience has shown that years of extreme drought usually means lower productivity.


Elk Composition Surveys: Regional Wildlife Staff conducted aerial elk composition surveys over the Siouxon (572), Yale (554), Toutle (556) and Margaret (524) Game Management Units on the 5th and 6th of September. Weather conditions were suitable with limited fog and calm - moderate winds during the three survey flights. The new Wildlife Program Standard Operating Proceedures for flight were followed during the effort. These proceedures require additional Staff and resources to maintain compliance but do add a measure of safety to the flights.

September 5, 2006


Non Native Wildlife: Thirteen Eurasian Collared Doves were seen at the grain silos in Goldendale, Klickitat County this week. Originally from Asia, Eurasian Collard Doves are rapidly expanding their range since showing up in Florida, from the Bahamas, several decades ago. This is the largest group of these exotic doves seen in Klickitat to date.

Western Pond Turtle Habitat Project: Biologist Anderson was notified that the USFS currently has $12,000 allocated for WPT habitat improvement in Skamania County. The majority of this money will be used to remove unwanted vegetation like Scot's broom and blackberry. In addition, thinning of Douglas fir will be accomplished in select timber stands adjacent to turtle habitat.


Game Species Status and Trend Reports: Biologists in the region have completed their portions of the agencies annual status and trend reports for deer, elk, cougar, grouse, turkey and mountain goat. These reports summarize survey efforts, harvest trends and other factors such as habitat changes and how they effect the future management of each species.

Elk Herd Composition Surveys: Regional Wildlife Program Staff have devoted considerable time in preparation of next week's annual elk surveys. Standard Operating Procedures now predicate considerable time in the coordination of logistics and safety related aspects of survey flights. Specifically, new requirements for on-board GPS units, Personal Locator Beacons, Flight Tracking, Ambient Noise Reduction equipment, extra radios, etc. all add to the complexity of flying.

Elk composition flights are designed to determine annual bull to cow ratios, calf to cow ratios and bull mortality rates. The data generated from these efforts is used as a portion of the input into the Regional elk population model. Next week's flights will be conducted within the Siouxon, Yale, Margaret and Toutle GMUs.

September 18, 2006


Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Vegetation Management Activities:
Assistant Manager Vanderlip and Natural Resource Tech Morris have made herbicide applications to approximately 35 acres of the wildlife area. These applications are part of an integrated vegetation management approach to control several weed species such as reed canarygrass, Canada thistle and blackberry. The objective is to ensure species diversity within the plant communities that inhabit our wintering waterfowl and wildlife forage fields.

Beaver Dam Removal: Assistant Manager Vanderlip and Natural Resource Tech Morris removed a beaver dam from in front of the pond riser on the Young Road Pond in the Mossyrock Unit. The dam had plugged the riser and prevented wildlife area staff from conducting wet soil management activities. The hydrology to these ponds is dependent upon precipitation and the resulting high water table. Water levels are manipulated via the risers to encourage emergent growth during the spring and summer. The ponds are flooded in the winter to provide habitat to migratory waterfowl.

Davis Lake HPA Hydrology Project: CWA staff and Justice Trucking began work on the HPA approved Davis Lake Hydrology Project. This year’s work involved removing blackberries from the edge of the ditch channel, removing accumulated silt and mud from the channel and removing reed canarygrass blockages to increase water flow. In all, 50 yards of silt and mud was removed and it was dumped on an upland site location. All work was done during the dry season when the ditch was no longer flowing.

Recreation Information: Lewis County is currently under a burn ban and campfires are only allowed in approved fire rings in established campgrounds - open fires are not permitted anywhere on the wildlife area. Additionally, Peterman Ridge is currently closed to unauthorized vehicular traffic due to the high fire hazard and the neighboring industrial timberlands. Peterman Ridge is open to all non-motorized access. Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday at 1-888-502-8690.

Mt. St. Helens:
Society for Range Management Tour:
Manager Calkins gave a presentation to the Society for Range Management Conference attendees who were touring the Mt. St. Helens area on Septerber 15th. Calkins spoke about elk in the Toutle Valley and how thier habitat conditions had changed since the eruption and how WDFW's elk herd management plan addresses the change.


Sandhill Crane Conservation: Biologist Anderson received notice that a small grant application for $60,000 from the Intermountain West Joint Venture for Conboy Lake NWR/Trout Lake/Klickitat River projects has been approved for funding. The North American Crane Working group will be the grantee and will manage these funds. WDFW is one of five other cooperators involved in this project. This proposal will help implement recommendations provided in the recovery plan for the state endangered Greater Sandhill Crane and the regional waterbird plan. In addition to benefits to Sandhill Cranes, protection and restoration and management of herbaceous wetland, ponderosa pine, oak woodlands, riparian and aspen habitats will benefit many of the priority species identified in the Intermountain West Waterbird Conservation Plan, the Washington Implementation Plan (Washington Steering Committee 2005), and Oregon/Washington Partners in flight conservation strategies for the region.

September 25, 2006


Shillapoo Sandhill Cranes: Sandhill Cranes have arrived in the Vancouver Lowlands area and the next two weeks should be an excellent time for viewing these birds. This is part of a migratory population that stops here in the fall and spring as a stopover on thier migratory route. Most of the birds will move further south but some will spend the entire winter in the vicinity. Harvested corn fields along Lower River Road probably present the best viewing opportunities.

Western pond turtle habitat.
Western pond turtle survey.
Trapping for western pond turtles at an unnamed lake in the Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR.


Western Pond Turtle: Trapping for western pond turtles is underway at Ridgefield NWR. There are currently 2 hoop traps in Gee Creek and 6 hoop traps in an unnamed lake in the Carty Unit. The lake features excellent habitat for turtles. The first day of checking the entire trap layout was Sept. 14. One trap contained 11 painted turtles. We noticed that some of the turtles exhibited inconsistent primary and secondary sex characteristics. Two males(?) had the flat body profile and long foreclaws typical of males, but thin tails with the vent even with the edge of the shell, a feature normal for females. One male had a normal male tail and body profile, but shorter foreclaws, more typical of female turtles. All of the turtles had moderate algal growth, despite an abundance of places for emergent basking (which would allow them to dry out). The turtles are molting the outer layer of shell coverings, so they show sections of clean, colorful shell interspersed with shaggy, algae-covered surfaces. Two traps placed in Carty Lake were removed after they were ruined by aquatic rodents in less than one day. Traps are to be checked daily through Sept. 23, then removed to storage. Lauren Ridenour is checking the traps. This takes 2 to 3 hours per day, depending on trapping success and whether she has recruited volunteer help.


Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Plan: Biologists from District 10 and 9 are reviewing the document and responding to public comments. Most public comments support the new herd goal, support using permits to deal with damage, support retention of the permit entry for units 524 and 556 and support using permits to deal with elk populations in the Gorge. Other comments are being addressed.

Avian Influenza Monitoring: Biologists in Distinct 10 obtained sampling vials last week to use in sick/dead bird situations as well as fecal analysis. Check station processes are being modified to comply with tissue media requirements for freezing and refrigeration.

Dark Goose Survey: District Wildlife Biologist Miller followed up on a local report and surveyed the Lewis & Clark refuge for geese. Several flocks of dark geese were observed, none with white next collars. In addition, several thousand ducks were observed on Russian and Lois islands.