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Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Vancouver, WA 98661

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
February 2007

February 5, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Watchable Wildlife:Many individuals visit the wildlife area this time of year primarily to view waterfowl using the wetlands, pastures, and agricultural fields on the site and in the surrounding area. Many other species can be seen as well and often are overlooked. On a recent afternoon in the area, Wildlife Area Manager Calkins observed the following birds: White-tailed Kite, Short Eared Owl, Northern Harrier, Great Blue Heron, Red-winged Blackbird, Flicker, Mourning Dove, and Scrub Jay.

A comparison of grazed (left) vs. mowed (right) on the edge of the area where grazing was reestablished.
A comparison of grazed (left) vs. mowed (right) on the edge of the area where grazing was reestablished.

Shillapoo Grazing Evaluations: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins visited the grazing areas on the Wildlife Area to evaluate the effectiveness of managing these habitats by grazing for Canada Geese and other waterfowl. Grazing evaluations are conducted twice annually to document conditions and identify issues that need to be addressed. The recent observations were completed to evaluate conditions after the grazing season, which is really the most important time for this particular program. No major issues were encountered, however, some weed issues will need to be addressed this coming year. Currently conditions in the pastures are very good for our target wildlife species. This is defined by short 3" to 6" stubble that re-grows to provide good goose grazing habitat.

Conditions for these birds in the grazing management areas are generally much better than in pastures where we manage by mowing. Mowing is a much more expensive operation for wildlife area staff, but is used where it is not practical to graze due to resource concerns. In one of our existing leases, re-fencing is needed of some old pasture areas to address potential resource impacts in sensitive areas as well as to provide for the best pasture conditions by using grazing as a tool to produce better forage habitat. The fencing is progressing and last summer one area was grazed for the first time in several years. A much better condition exists now for geese and there are no annual costs as with mowing.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Elk Count:
As part of the monthly monitoring of the elk herd on the Mt. St Helens Wildlife Area, District Wildlife Biologist Miller and volunteer Tony Kastella counted 369 elk on the wildlife area on February 1, 2007. Herd composition was as follows: 36 bulls: 100 cows: 40 calves. There was no snow on the valley floor. Elk were concentrated along the road that is used to distribute feed, except for some bull groups west of the creek ford that were scattered along the river bank.

GAME AND DIVERSITY DIVISION

Annual Workshops: WDFW's Wildlife Program held the annual workshops for the Game and Diversity Divisions. This provides biologists throughout the state the opportunity to discuss pertinent issues and techniques. Project and task assignments were also made; for example, ongoing surveys on species like elk, deer, waterfowl, and marbled murrelets will continue in District 10.

February 12, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Emergency Winter Feeding:
Use rate of hay has declined, particularly at the western part of the feeding area. In response, the daily feed rate has been reduced to 2,700 pounds of alfalfa hay per day. Estimated use rate of hay has been fluctuating from near total consumption to as low as about 50% on some days. Most counts from the road during daily feeding operations have remained above an estimated 300 elk, with almost all of this use being recently at the eastern end of the wildlife area. We will continue to adjust feed rates to estimated elk numbers, observed usage rates, and weather conditions.

Elk herd
Elk herd
A herd of elk visited the KWA headquarters office last week.

Biologists spent time on the mudflow on Feb 9th to collect soil samples and start reseeding some of the stabilization plantings that were damaged in November. Replanting of some of the erosion control plantings has started with about 0.35 mile seeded this week. The increased use of the roadway, where feeding of the elk is occurring, has substantially damaged forage plants along the road. The roadway had been seeded with a forage mix several years ago to increase forage production on the site. The western half will have to be reseeded (about 1 ½ miles or 6 acres).

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Elk Herd:
A herd of elk visited the KWA headquarters office last week. There were 2 adult bulls, 2 young bulls, and 26 cows and calves.

GAME DIVISION

Pacific Northwest Sportsman's Show: The annual Pacific Northwest Sportsman's Show was held in Portland from February 7 through 11. Wildlife Program had the lead on display preparation with lots of help from Office Manager Morrison. Staff from all Regional Programs helped man the WDFW booth.

This year's presentation featured the local WDFW Wildlife Areas. Posters illustrating highlights and unique features were on display for the Klickitat, Shillapoo, Mt. St. Helens, and Cowlitz Wildlife Areas. Also featured were posters of successful hunters in the field and various local wildlife species.

Favorite topics of discussion at this year's show included various aspects of Mt. St. Helens elk herd management, sea lion hazing and potential lethal removal, spring chinook run forecasts, etc. As usual, however, the favorite point of discussion was the date of WDFW's Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet.

Goose Nest Survey: District Wildlife Biologist Miller sent out a notice to solicit volunteers for the annual goose nest survey in the Columbia River. Volunteers make up 60 % of the work force on this project, which examines nesting habitat on islands in the Columbia River. Seats are filling rapidly; any interested parties should contact Miller soon.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Bald Eagle Management: District Wildlife Biologist Miller received 5 eagle issues in the mail this week. Three of the notices will be settled with a no-conditions plan, one was sent to Survey Biologist Woodin, and 1 will require more information on the proposal. Many landowners and proponents think the eagle is de-listed and does not require protection, however; until state WAC's are changed, WDFW will need to respond and provide protection to habitat so that eagles do not become rare in the future.

February 20, 2007

Emergency Winter Feeding
Elk along the river gravel bar where supplemental feeding and lack of disturbance allows them to conserve their energy.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Emergency Winter Feeding:
Use rate of hay has increased and is up to 100% again, particularly at the western part of the feeding area. In response, the daily feed rate has been increased to 4,000 pounds of alfalfa hay per day. Most counts from the road during daily feeding operations are back up to an estimated 350 elk or higher. We will continue to adjust feed rates to estimated elk numbers, observed usage rates, and weather conditions.

Replanting of some of the erosion control plantings has started. Just over 1 mile of seeding has been accomplished to date, with about 100 willow and cottonwood cuttings collected and planted as well.

Wildlife Biologist Woodin assisted Wildlife Area staff in distributing alfalfa on the mudflow last week. The elk are taking full use of this supplemental feed while continuing to forage on the slight green-up of the grasses. The elk are present along the valley floor and the lack of disturbance allows them to conserve their energy.

Westside Research Workshop: Region 5 Wildlife Biologists along with Program Manager Jonker attended the Westside Research Workshop presented by WDFW's Science Division. The workshop featured presentations and updates on current research projects in Western Washington. Several species and groups of species were topics of excellent presentations including marine mammals, marbled murrelets, snowy plovers, streaked horned larks, western grey squirrels, and mountain goats. This was a very useful process to disseminate research results to the District and field biologists.

Additional discussion focused on the process by which Regional interests and concerns are developed into research projects. The meeting concluded with an opportunity to list research questions that are currently of interest to Regional Staff. In Region 5, several potential topics of future research were mentioned. These included an examination of the effects of the use of herbicides in forest plantations, including their effect on the nutritional status of deer and elk; nutrition and body condition of elk as they relate to carrying capacity and mortality; development of new ways to quantify deer and elk populations in heavily forested environments; an investigation into potential nutritional competition among turkeys, western grey squirrels, and forest grouse; and research into the effects of the long term decline, including hairloss syndrome, in blacktail deer.

February 26, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Emergency Winter Feeding:
Use rate of hay by elk has been high this past week. The daily feed rate is at 4,000 pounds of alfalfa hay per day. With the recent and expected more severe weather, we plan to bump the feed rate to 5,750 pounds of alfalfa every other day and evaluate the use until weather moderates. Counts from the road during daily feeding operations have been consistently above an estimated 350 elk or higher. Using estimates from the daily road counts, there are probably close to 600 animals now using the mudflow area.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Golden Eagle Research:
Acting Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven assisted the golden eagle research team in their effort to capture and radio-tag golden eagles. Van Leuven assisted in locating nest sites, providing bait, and placing bait for trapping. A male bird was captured and equipped with a GPS transmitter on February 22nd. The transmitter lasts 3 to 4 years and placing the transmitter on a resident Washington bird was a high priority as many birds turn out to be transients. A second site was set up for trapping February 23rd. Trapping success there is unknown at this time.

GAME DIVISION

Post-Season Elk Survey: WDFW Wildlife Biologists Holman and Woodin conducted an elk survey in the Lewis River Game Management Unit (GMU 560) last week. Recent low-elevation snowfall aided in concentrating the elk on lower slopes. In addition, the flight occurred in a window between weather fronts that allowed the elk to take thermal advantage of sunny south-facing slopes.

A total of 388 elk were classified with 60 bulls, 228 cows and 100 calves. This results in a bull:cow ratio of 26% and calf:cow ratio of 44%, both indicative of a healthy elk population. The proportion of bulls was 53% spikes, 37% raghorns, and 10% mature.

A huge thanks goes to our helicopter pilot, Jess Hagerman, for his incredible skills in maneuvering the ship to increase our time observing and accurately identifying the elk.

February 26, 2007

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Emergency Winter Feeding:
Use rate of hay by elk has been high this past week. The daily feed rate is at 4,000 pounds of alfalfa hay per day. With the recent and expected more severe weather, we plan to bump the feed rate to 5,750 pounds of alfalfa every other day and evaluate the use until weather moderates. Counts from the road during daily feeding operations have been consistently above an estimated 350 elk or higher. Using estimates from the daily road counts, there are probably close to 600 animals now using the mudflow area.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Golden Eagle Research:
Acting Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven assisted the golden eagle research team in their effort to capture and radio-tag golden eagles. Van Leuven assisted in locating nest sites, providing bait, and placing bait for trapping. A male bird was captured and equipped with a GPS transmitter on February 22nd. The transmitter lasts 3 to 4 years and placing the transmitter on a resident Washington bird was a high priority as many birds turn out to be transients. A second site was set up for trapping February 23rd. Trapping success there is unknown at this time.

GAME DIVISION

Post-Season Elk Survey: WDFW Wildlife Biologists Holman and Woodin conducted an elk survey in the Lewis River Game Management Unit (GMU 560) last week. Recent low-elevation snowfall aided in concentrating the elk on lower slopes. In addition, the flight occurred in a window between weather fronts that allowed the elk to take thermal advantage of sunny south-facing slopes.

A total of 388 elk were classified with 60 bulls, 228 cows and 100 calves. This results in a bull:cow ratio of 26% and calf:cow ratio of 44%, both indicative of a healthy elk population. The proportion of bulls was 53% spikes, 37% raghorns, and 10% mature.

A huge thanks goes to our helicopter pilot, Jess Hagerman, for his incredible skills in maneuvering the ship to increase our time observing and accurately identifying the elk.