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
December 2007

December 3, 2007

Wildlife Program Workshop: Region 5 staff attended and participated in the Wildlife Program Workshop this week. This is a valuable opportunity to learn current and future events/items within the Program and provides the opportunity for Program staff across the state to interact and network.


Land Access Program: This effort continued to be implemented at the St. Helens Tree Farm with the help of volunteers during the modern firearm and muzzleloader special elk permit seasons this last week. The number of volunteers has dropped; however, we are still able to provide additional motorized access during the week thanks to the few volunteers who continue to commit to this program - we are appreciative of all their effort.

Check Station: Region 5 Law Enforcement Officers and Biologists implemented a check station last Saturday off of Spirit Lake Highway. Several hunters came through and a few were successful despite the raw weather.

December 10, 2007


Danger Tree Evaluation: A private landowner/home owner in the Rosburg area called recently to inquire about removing some trees from his property that were posing a danger to his home. Apparently one of his neighbors told him that an eagle was nesting in one of the trees and DNR forwarded his call to District Biologist Miller. Miller visited the site after the recent windstorm and found no evidence of eagles, although the trees were of favorable size and structure. The landowner was advised of the lack of eagle nesting and asked to remove only those trees that were critical to keeping his home safe. Since the trees withstood the recent storm, it is felt that they are more wind firm than originally thought.

Columbia White Tail Deer Survey: District Wildlife Biologist Miller is continuing to conduct surveys of the ESA listed CWT deer in the area west of Longview. Deer numbers are down so far in the counts, but Miller was encouraged to see some fawns in the Willow Grove area. Coyote predation is thought to be limiting deer numbers and coyotes are regularly observed on Willow Grove and Fisher Island.


SW Washington Canada Goose Season Area 2a: The initial Canada goose hunting season closed November 25th in Area 2A. The first hunt period offered average success among those choosing to participate in the hunt. Collectively the State-operated hunter check stations located at Vancouver, Ridgefield Marina, and Woodland along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service station at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge reported a total of 324 hunters having harvested a total of 616 geese during the first hunt period (November 10 through 25). This makes an average of 1.9 birds per hunter among those who brought birds to the check stations.

Goose season re-opened on December 5th and continues on the 3-days per week schedule (Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday) until January 27th 2008. Those interested in participating in the Area 2A goose hunt are encouraged to review the special requirements that are detailed in the Waterfowl Hunting Pamphlet. The special seasons in 2A are designed to protect populations of the dusky Canada goose.

2008 Big Game Hunting Regulations: Biologists Anderson and Holman consulted with Enforcement Program Staff from Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat counties regarding development of the 2008 hunting seasons. Minor fine-tuning of elk and deer area damage hunts are the only anticipated changes. 2008 represents the final year of hunting in the current 3-year season setting package.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Pre-Winter Elk Mortality Survey: District Wildlife Biologist Miller, Biologist Holman, MSHWA Manager Calkins, Assistant Manager Hauswald, Technicians Pyzik and Ridenour, R5 Customer Service Representative Gonzalez, and volunteers Braaten and Howell conducted a pre-winter elk mortality survey at the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Surveyors systematically hiked the mudflow area and documented 57 elk carcasses during the survey. The survey objective was to document locations of all past elk mortalities (e.g., mortalities from previous years, current harvest remains, etc.). With this baseline established, an accurate assessment of the upcoming winter mortality can be conducted during late spring 2008.

Oak Habitat Project: Biologist Anderson met with contract Biologist Thiebes to initiate a plan for an oak habitat improvement project in Klickitat County. Biologist Thiebes is working with the WDFW and other private, state, and federal landowners to enhance oak habitat for a variety of wildlife species. In many areas of Klickitat County, oak habitat is being lost due to conifer encroachment as a result of fire suppression. Several oak stands were visited over a two-day period to evaluate potential project locations. Funding for this project is been provided by WDFW and the Wild Turkey Federation.

December 17, 2007


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Rainstorm Impact:
The recent heavy rains caused only minor erosion along the edge of the Mudflow by the North Fork Toutle River. This did however, include some of the tree plantings that were installed last year. A rough estimate of winter range forage lost during the floods is one acre, perhaps up to two. The Lower Columbia Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group and Cowlitz Tribe are partnering with WDFW on a project that is under way to install wood structures to help stabilize the bank area and the winter range habitat. It will also reduce sediment transport in the system and provide more stable habitat for fish. WDFW has also received a larger grant from the Recreation and Conservation Office to do the same type of work in other parts of the Wildlife Area. We hope that we can get this work under way in 2008.

Closure: The annual closure of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is now in effect. Wildlife Area Manager Calkins posted signs at the most common access points and one more remote route to the Wildlife Area to advise the public of the closure. The closure, which will be in effect until May 1st, is part of WDFW's effort to minimize disturbance to elk on the winter range and increase winter survival in the herd.

Pre-Winter Elk Survey: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins conducted the first winter count of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on December 5th. Periodic counts are made throughout the winter as part of our monitoring effort on the wildlife area. In this case, the count may not be a complete representation of animals using the site because two hikers were seen on the Wildlife Area, which may have excluded some elk from the count. A total of 263 elk were seen on the mudflow. Of these, 144 were classified including 83 Bulls, 13 calves, and 48 cows before the hikers spooked the elk. We will attempt to do a second count due to the human disturbance, and subsequent counts will be made at least once per month.

Piles of dead limbs being burnt at the KWA Headquarters.
Piles of dead limbs being burnt at the KWA Headquarters.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven burned 3 piles of dead limbs at the KWA Headquarters and 6 piles along Anderson Rd.. It was dry and cold both days. It was very difficult to ignite some of the piles; however, the piles burned up completely once they were going. Snow prevented the fire from spreading outside the perimeter of the piles.


Mt. St. Helens Monument Elk Hunts Proposed: Regional Wildlife Program Staff met with U.S. Forest Service representatives to further discuss proposed elk hunts in three areas of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The three new hunt areas "Pumice Plains", "Mt. Whittier", and “Upper Smith Creek” have been identified and approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission and endorsed by the Forest Service. Current points of discussion between the Forest Service and WDFW surround tag numbers, season dates, land use restrictions, etc.

2009-2015 Game Management Plan: Biologist Holman provided comments to the draft version of the 2009-2015 Game Management Plan. Additionally, Holman provided comments and suggested additions to the series of questions that will be included in a public survey effort related to the development of the 2009-2015 Plan. Comments submitted focused primarily on black-tailed deer ecology and management as well as Mt. St. Helens elk herd issues.


Columbia-Cascades Habitat Partnership: Over the past year biologist Anderson has been working with several conservation groups to develop a NAWCA Grant for work on the east side of the Cascades. This last week we were notified that our NAWCA Grant for the Columbia-Cascades Habitat Partnership Phase 1 has been recommended for funding, pending final approval by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission in March. At this point it looks very good that $1 million dollars will go to habitat restoration and enhancement projects at Conboy Lake NWR, restoration at Trout Lake NAP, acquisition by Columbia Land Trust in Klickitat Canyon, and restoration projects at Washington's Klickitat Wildlife Area. The primary emphasis is the restoration of wetland habitat to benefit sandhill cranes, spotted frogs, breeding waterfowl, and oak/pine habitat.

December 24, 2007


Klickitat Wildlife Area: Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven accompanied Law Enforcement Officer Bolton to court regarding an off-road driving citation issued Oct. 13, 2007. The incident was discussed and reviewed. Officer Bolton brought photos taken at the scene. The violator also brought photos to support his point of view. The court determined that he did violate the law and directed him to pay the fine.


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Elk Count: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and Fish and Wildlife Technician Ridenour conducted a winter count on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on December 21st. Periodic counts are made throughout the winter as part of our monitoring effort on the wildlife area. A total of 428 elk were observed on the mudflow. Of these, 299 elk were classified including 43 bulls (22 spike, 14 raghorn, and 7 mature), 80 calves, and 176 cows. The number of elk observed on the mudflow was an increase from the first count. During the first winter count, human disturbance may have influenced the number of elk observed.


Columbia White-Tail Deer: Fish and Wildlife Technician Ridenour continued to conduct surveys of the ESA listed CWT deer in the area west of Longview. Ridenour was encouraged to see some fawns in the Willow Grove area. Coyote predation is thought to be limiting deer numbers and coyotes are regularly observed on Willow Grove and Fisher Island.