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
July 2007

July 2, 2007


Water speedwell (Veronica angallis-aquatica)
Water speedwell (Veronica angallis-aquatica)
Water speedwell
(Veronica angallis-aquatica)

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
New Invasive Species at Vancouver Lake:
Some months ago Assistant Manager Hauswald found a floating plant he did not recognize near one of the water control structures on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area, Vancouver Lake Unit. At that time he collected a specimen and showed it to Wildlife Area Manager Calkins who also did not recognize the plant. The same day Calkins delivered the specimen to staff at the Clark County Weed Management Office. Casey Gosarth of the weed management agency then set out to identify the plant and also monitored the site waiting for the plant to flower. Several possibilities were considered and ruled out until a flowering plant was found and identified as water speedwell (Veronica angallis-aquatica). We have been advised that this is considered an invasive plant and Weed Management could not find any other records of occurrences in Washington. The images at right are examples of some of the plants we have removed. It should be noted that we have found some plants that were much larger than those pictured.

Because the plant was found developing roots in a floating condition, we managed the water input to the wetland to prevent overflow into other areas until the plant could be identified. Current action includes at least weekly monitoring and hand removal of any plants found. Water levels on the site are now being allowed to draw down so we believe the plant is contained at this time.

Currently we have only found the plant in an area of about 250 square feet but it floats and could possibly have spread further at least within the wetland. The plant is difficult to find however, because it is located in a dense stand of Reed Canary Grass. Once we are confident we have removed as many plants as possible, we will probably hand mow the area so that any missed plants will be easier to spot and remove. Searches of the surrounding areas will continue as well as a measure to protect high quality wetland habitat.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Toutle River Sediment Management:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended a meeting with representatives from several organizations to discuss a draft reconnaissance report by the US Army Corps of Engineers focusing on potential actions to improve fish passage and reduce sediment issues associated with their Sediment Retention Structure on the North Fork Toutle. The group had a number of concerns including: not incorporating operational impacts from TPU's hydro projects on the Cowlitz, not mentioning sediment impacts to smelt, and the limited geographic scope of the analysis. Several in the group also made note that they were anxious to see WDFW take control of the sediment retention lands because they see us as a much more reasonable landowner to work with. DOT, who currently controls the lands, has taken no actions to manage the lands for the benefit of fish and wildlife.

Pygmy Rabbit Recovery Project
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven worked with the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) to supply sagebrush to Oregon Zoo for pygmy rabbit recovery project.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Wildlife Area Manager:
The Region 5 Wildlife Program successfully completed the recruitment process to permanently fill the Wildlife Area Manager position and is very pleased to welcome Sue VanLeuven as the new Wildlife Area Manager.

Pygmy Rabbit Recovery Project: Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven worked with the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) to supply sagebrush to Oregon Zoo for pygmy rabbit recovery project. The twelve bags of sagebrush were transported from KWA to the Oregon Zoo.


Region 6 Elk Capture Effort: Biologist Holman assisted Region 6 Staff with a three-day elk capture effort. Region 6 Staff from Wildlife, Habitat, Fisheries, and Enforcement programs all participated in the effort along with WDFW veterinarian Mansfield. Approximately 20 very skilled and experienced volunteers also participated in the project. The Region 6 study is part of WDFW's ongoing effort to appropriately manage elk in heavily forested habitats. Thanks to Region 6 for the opportunity to participate.

Elk Management: Biologist Anderson met with representatives of the Trout Lake community council to discuss growth management, wildlife issues, and planning for residential growth in the Trout Lake valley. Of special concern are the potential conflicts with elk and development of forest land into residential. Maps were provided by WDFW to the community council indicating those lands that should remain in forest zoning to minimize future damage issues. In addition, the community council was interested in determining how to plan for growth in the valley while at the same time minimizing safety issues associated with modern firearm rifle hunting.

Goose Banding: District Wildlife Biologist Miller is finalizing preparations and coordination efforts for the Operation Dark Goose Banding in the lower Columbia River. Plenty of volunteers have committed to participating and all necessary gear is nearly ready.

July 9, 2007


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Invasive Species:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins twice surveyed the site where Water Speedwell had been located on the Vancouver Lake Unit. Good news at this point is that no additional plants were found this week. He also began cutting dense reed canary grass around the primary location where the plant was found. Monitoring in other parts of this wetland, which received a disking treatment last year, found that reed canary grass, which had dominated the basin, has been replaced by a great stand of Wapato and water plantain. As the water recedes further, we might expect to find other native plants including sedges, rushes, and smartweeds sprouting as well.

Assistant Manager Hauswald, in the course of doing purple loosestife and other weed control in the north unit, found two other new weeds that we had never documented on the site. These included two meadow knapweed plants and a single slenderflowered thistle plant. The knapweed was cut and will be sprayed later and the thistle was pulled. Although these two plants disperse seed by wind, both were found at locations where it is quite possible that the seed may have fallen from a vehicle, someone's clothing, or equipment.

A DNR crew from the Larch Corrections Center began work last week on removing Himalayan blackberry on the South Unit. The crew is currently working on some stands along old fence lines that limit sight distance and wintering Canada goose usage of fields and wetlands. These crews were found to be a tremendous resource last year in the removal of blackberry stands with chainsaws in areas where large equipment would be impractical. At a later date we will have the crew move to a forested riparian zone where the understory is dominated by blackberry to remove the undesirable brush so that we can replant native species next year.

Eight-week old Sandhill crane colt receiving a monitoring band.
Eight-week old Sandhill crane colt receiving a monitoring band.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area: The wildlife area is a popular destination for 4th of July celebrations. Wildlife Area Manager Grabski and Wildlife Technician Morris worked the weekend before the 4th of July and the Holiday itself with Officer Jeschke and Tacoma Power Lands Officer Wilson. Activity was down from the last two years, most likely because the holiday fell during the middle of the week.


Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson is currently working on the Conboy National Wildlife Refuge to monitor this year’s Sandhill crane nesting success. Several pairs of cranes have hatched young, but mortality has been high. Biologists are attempting to band any juveniles (colts) in order to learn more about migration patterns and survival in Washington's only breeding population. The most recent colt captured (SandhillCrane.jpg) was an eight-week old bird nearing the age when it will take its first flight.

Western Pond Turtles: We currently have located a total of 21 western pond turtle nests in the Columbia River Gorge. We've had volunteer help during the past couple weeks, which has helped to relieve schedule issues. Monitoring will continue for another two weeks to determine if there are any female turtles that may double clutch. In late July or early August we will release turtles from last year’s effort to select ponds in the Columbia River Gorge.

Operation Wild Goose
Operation Wild Goose
Operation Wild Goose
Operation Wild Goose
WDFW staff with USFWS, ODFW and volunteers captured and banded dark geese at Miller Sands Island.


Operation Dark Goose: Region 5 Wildlife Staff with the assistance of Region 6, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and approximately 20 volunteers captured and banded 100 + dark geese at Miller Sands Island. The geese are very similar in size and coloration to the dusky Canada goose that is restricted in harvest by quota. The leg bands and neck collars serve as a visual marker for hunters and goose check station employees not to count these birds as part of the dusky harvest quota. See image at right of dark geese and a volunteer carrying birds to release them.

Hump Island Clean-Up: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and local FWO Lantigne assisted the DNR with a clean up party on Hump Island near Longview. A homeless couple had established a large camp on the island and WDFW provided boat transport for the volunteers that came to clean up the site. Several hundred pounds of garbage was removed from the site as well as evidence of meth cooking supplies.

Hump Island is a part of the area where Columbian White tailed deer are being introduced back into the lower Columbia. It was suspected that the activities of the person camping on the island (in excess of the DNR stay limit) reduced the habitat quality for the deer and possibly even the death of some of the transplanted animals.

Community Service: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and local volunteer Lisa Sudar witnessed a roll over crash on Highway 30 in Oregon on their return from the goose project. First aid was provided to the occupants of the vehicle, which came to rest on its top after rolling over twice as it crossed from the east bound lanes to the north bound lanes. Injures were minor and it was very fortunate that all the occupants were wearing seat belts and in child seats. Local EMS responded and took over treatment.

July 16


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Lakebed Wetland Enhancement:
Ducks Unlimited (DU) is in the final preparations of completing a wetland project in the Shillapoo Lakebed that began in 2004. At that time, just prior to construction, BP Olympic Pipeline, which previously had shown no concern with the project, elected to not allow construction over their pipeline easement. Their stated reason was that this would put their pipeline in a wetland making it difficult for them to get permits for maintenance work. Since that time, DU has worked to modify the design and permits for the project to avoid the pipeline. The result will be a 120-acre manageable wetland that will be slightly smaller than originally envisioned, but with the same functions. The land was in agricultural use when WDFW purchased it and is part of our efforts to create wetland habitat in the Shillapoo Lakebed that was drained for agricultural production in the 1950's.

Permitting work is still progressing for work in other parts of the lakebed in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. However, the timing of permits is slower than we had hoped meaning construction on this project will not commence until 2008.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Monitoring and Maintenance:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins was accompanied by Volunteer Mike Braaten to help with several tasks. During the day a sign board at the east end of the wildlife area was replaced, a search for any obvious new weeds in last year’s emergency elk winter feeding areas was conducted, two known knapweed infestation sites were surveyed, a qualitative assessment of survival in last spring’s tree planting was conducted, and techniques were explored to remove fence posts once used as part of our funnel trap for elk.

No known noxious weeds were located along the road where feeding occurred last winter, although there is one plant that still needs to be identified. Only two spotted knapweed plants were located at one of the previous infestation sites, but the plants have yet to flower so more monitoring will be needed.

Although some trees were lost due to erosion immediately after they were planted last spring, those that remain are still doing quite well. Some uprooted cedar were found, presumably due to elk browsing activity, where tree tubes had come off of the plants and some specimens that were put only in wire cages did show signs of dehydration. Several ninebark plants were also found uprooted, also presumably due to elk. Red Alder plants overall were doing the best and seed had established fairly well in most areas.

Most of the time was spent working on removing posts from the elk trap. First a device, built by Volunteer Braaten, was tested to pull ten-foot metal T-posts. A design flaw became evident almost immediately in that the gripping portion of the device, which uses the principal of a fulcrum and lever, pushed the post away from the force intended to pull it out of the ground. This was corrected by the creative use of a chain securing the post to the top of the mechanism. In order to generate the force required to extract the post the "handle" had to be pulled with a tractor. Three posts were pulled before it was decided that modifications were needed before further testing. The reason being that the posts were being bent badly in several directions making them unusable and we had hoped to save the posts for other potential uses.

That being done, it was decided to attempt removal of some of the twelve foot wooden posts with the front-end loader of the small tractor. First a post was nudged several times in different directions to attempt to loosen it from the ground, which seemed successful. Chains were then wrapped around the base of the post and secured to the front-end loader. The first attempts to pull the first post were unsuccessful but some creative wiggling of the post while lifting with the tractor eventually freed it from the extremely hard soil. At times the force required to pull the posts was such that the rear wheels of the tractor left the ground. By the end of the day about half of the wooden posts that had supported the former trap alleyway had been pulled.


Ferruginous hawk mortality.
Ferruginous hawk mortality.

Klickitat County Windpower: Biologist Anderson reports that a ferruginous hawk mortality was located this week from the Big Horn Windpower Project in Klickitat County. It was an adult bird (probably female) that had a severely broken wing. The closest known ferruginous hawk nest territory to the windpower site is approximately 8-10 miles. This time of the year, after juveniles have fledged, adult birds begin a seasonal, northerly migration in search of ground squirrels. This bird could have originated from a Klickitat County nest site, but the current assumption is the bird may have been a migrant from Oregon. This information is valuable to an international ferruginous hawk study currently being conducted by Jim Watson, raptor specialist with WDFW.


Band-Tailed Pigeon Surveys: Surveys of band-tailed pigeons arriving at mineral sites have been initiated in Region 5. Band-tails use mineral sites extensively during the summer months. Long-term trends in the use of such sites serve as an indicator of overall population. The survey protocol for band-tail mineral sites prescribes a single visit to each location during the period encompassing July 10-20. Surveyors count all arriving and departing pigeons beginning 30 minutes prior to sunrise and concluding at noon.

Biologist Holman completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Cedar Creek State Wildlife Area site. A total of 191 pigeons arrived at Cedar Creek during the course of the seven-hour survey. The results for Cedar Creek are similar to those of past years. Other avian species noted during the survey included: swallows, sparrows, wrens, crows, kingfishers, turkey vultures, robins, cedar waxwings, wood ducks, flycatchers, and warblers.

July 23, 2007


New tests for Avian flu demonstrated here with a Canada goose.

Avian Influenza Training: Wildlife Management Staff from District 9 & 10 attended a short update session on bird flu monitoring for this fall. Data requirements have changed and funding has been reduced from federal agencies for the 2007-08 hunting season. Region V will still collect samples from cackling Canada geese at hunter check stations. We sampled over 350 geese last year with no positive test for the highly pathenogenic H5N1 strain for bird flu. New tests were discussed and demonstrated.

Band-Tailed Pigeon Surveys: Surveys of band-tailed pigeons arriving at mineral sites continue in Region 5. Band-tails use mineral sites extensively during the summer months. Mineral springs are important for mineral intake by adult pigeons, especially during the nesting season. Large concentrations of birds congregate at these sites especially during the summer months. In the Pacific Northwest, mineral sites most likely provide high sodium and to a lesser degree calcium in the diet as a supplement to the bird’s food requirements. Long-term trends in the use of such sites serve as indicators of overall population. These surveys are part of a coordinated effort to monitor band-tailed pigeon populations in the Northwest. The survey protocol for band-tail mineral sites prescribes a single visit to each location during the period encompassing July 10-20. Surveyors count all arriving and departing pigeons beginning 30 minutes prior to sunrise and concluding at noon.

Biologist Holman completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Kalama River site. A total of 120 pigeons arrived at the mineral spring during the course of the seven-hour survey. The results at the Kalama River are somewhat lower than those of past years. Biologist Anderson completed band-tailed pigeon mineral spring surveys on the Wind River this week. Approximately 200 pigeons were seen at this site, which is considered within the normal range for this survey.

July 30, 2007


Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Vegetation Management Activities: Assistant Manager Vanderlip sprayed glyphosate on approximately six acres of reed canarygrass on the Davis Lake Unit of the wildlife area. The application was conducted as part of the preparation for a fall seeding. Additional activities will include plowing, tilling, and harrowing the site. The projects goal is to improve the habitat for area wildlife and wintering waterfowl.

Davis Lake Unit of Cowlitz wildlife area.
Davis Lake Unit of Cowlitz Wildlife Area undergoing habitat improvement for area wildlife and wintering waterfowl

A local operator assisting the wildlife area hayed approximately 30 acres of reed canarygrass from the recently acquired property adjacent to Temple Road on the Davis Lake Unit. This is the first time these fields have been hayed since we acquired them. Like the six acres above, these fields will be managed for area wildlife and wintering waterfowl.

New culvert at Mossyrock Unit.
Ditch maintenance included adding a culvert to allow equipment access to a forage field.

Culvert and Ditch Maintenance: Assistant Manager Vanderlip and Natural Resource Technician Morris cleaned out the ditch that directs water from a seep into the waterfowl ponds adjacent to the slab road at the Mossyrock Unit of the Wildlife Area. Reed canarygrass had “choked” the ditch allowing for sedimentation to occur and resulting in a decrease in the amount of water reaching the ponds. Also, an operator assisting with hay removal had crossed the ditch causing the water to flow down the road. In addition to the ditch maintenance activities, a culvert was placed to allow equipment into the adjacent forage field.

Watchable Wildlife: Birders can be rewarded for their efforts on the east end of Riffe Lake. There are currently at least 6 bald eagles occupying the Kosmos Flats. Watchers can expect to see some large adults with their juvenile offspring. Also, there have been sightings of osprey fishing along the lake’s banks. Best viewing times are early mornings and evenings.

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.

Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday at 1-888-502-8690.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Fire Reduction: In an effort to reduce fire hazard, efforts are underway at the wildlife area to thin trees and brush as well as chip downed material. A Department of Natural Resources fire crew has begun thinning small trees and shrubs in the Canyon Creek Loop Campground and chipping the downed material. In addition, the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew is also assisting with thinning and chipping downed material .


Mountain Goat Surveys: Biologist Holman conducted aerial mountain goat surveys over the Smith Creek and Tatoosh hunt areas. Cloudy weather caused some difficulties in completing the effort but both areas were eventually surveyed over the course of the day. Thirty-four goats were observed in the Smith Creek area (28 adults and 6 kids). Unfortunately, just two goats were observed (1 adult, 1 yearling) in the Tatoosh area. Goats that occupy the Tatoosh area move seasonally into Mt. Rainier National Park where surveys are not conducted. Thanks to WDFW Enforcement Sergeant Holden and volunteer Renan for their valuable help and sharp eyes during the survey.

Mt. Goat in Mt. St. Helens' crater.
Eleven goats have returned to Mt. St. Helens National Monument wildlife area and are shown here in the crater.

Also of interest regarding Mountain Goats is photo documentation of a group of 11 goats in the crater of Mt. St. Helens. The goats have come to occupy this portion of the National Monument in the past several years. Thanks to the USFS and USGS for providing the attached photo..

Mud Flow Hunts: Wildlife staff are preparing materials and access information for the upcoming Mud Flow hunts. Permit holders will receive a mailing approximately 2-3 weeks prior to their hunt with information on access and other rules associated with this unique hunt.

Customer Service: District Wildlife Biologist Miller is receiving 20-30 calls per day from permit holders asking for information on access, animal numbers, etc. This call volume is heavy and is unprecedented in Miller's 30-year career.


Mazama's Pocket Gophers: Biologist Holman conducted a field visit to Camp Bonneville in eastern Clark County. The former Army training center is in the (long) process of being cleared of unexploded munitions and turned over to the County for inclusion in their Parks department. A report prepared by consultants in the mid-1990's indicated that the hills created by gophers had been located on the site. A trapping effort was conducted at that time but no gophers were located. Investigations in July of 2007 resulted only in hills that appear to have been made by moles.

Western Pond Turtles: The field season has ended for the western pond turtle head start program in the Columbia River Gorge. Field staff identified 22 nests of which 2 were double clutches. This represents a very successful effort and will provide a large number of juvenile turtles for the 2008 release. Bullfrog control efforts will continue for two additional weeks with egg mass removal. Currently 29 egg masses have been removed this summer from ponds in Klickitat County. Juvenile turtles from the 2006 effort will be released at selected ponds in the Gorge on August 9th.