Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman summarized the 2008
western pond turtle capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield
National Wildlife Refuge. A significant effort was made this year in an attempt
to capture as large a portion of the Refuge's pond turtle population as possible.
Thirty traps were employed in 4 water bodies on the Refuge and checked daily
during a 14-day trapping session in May and a 9-day session in July. Environmental
conditions for captures were not ideal during either period. While there were
high levels of cold water combined with cool weather in the May trapping effort,
warm water and warm days made the July effort a challenge.
In spite of the relatively
poor trapping conditions, 203 total pond turtle captures comprising 64 different
individual turtles were recorded over the 23-days of trapping. One hundred-seventy-one
incidental captures of western painted turtles were also recorded during the
effort. Research Scientist Vander Haegen will use the data generated from the
captures to calculate a population estimate for the Refuge. Special thanks to
Fish and Wildlife Biologist Groesbeck for her help with a significant portion
of the turtle trapping work. Also, thanks to several others who helped out as
well, including Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Scientific Technician Pyzik,
Volunteer Renan, Biologist Prince, Scientific Technician Ridenour, Priority
Habitats and Species Biologist Azerrad, and Customer Service Specialists Gonzalez
and Varshock for their help in this important aspect of the recovery of the
State Endangered western pond turtle.
Three Year Hunting Season Evaluation: District 9 held its local public
meeting in White Salmon to present proposed changes for the next 3 year hunting
cycle. This was our first local meeting in the Gorge and it was well received
by the local community. We had a variety of interested people that attended
including deer and elk hunters from Skamania and Klickitat counties as well
as large timber and agricultural landowners in the area. Most comments from
the public were favorable to WDFW proposed changes; especially those related
to GMU boundary changes in Klickitat County.
Region 5 Deer Herd Composition
Surveys: Black-tail and mule deer herd composition surveys are nearly underway
in Region 5. The surveys are conducted annually during the period beginning
August 15 and continuing through September 30th. Wildlife Program Staff along
with volunteers will actively conduct surveys as well as document any deer seen
during other work (or play) activities. Any Region 5 staff member who is interested
is encouraged to collect this data as well. Please contact Biologist Holman
for a copy of the survey form and further information. Please be aware that
it is extremely important to classify all deer observed, i.e., don't just mention
the big bucks or healthy does with two nice fawns. Thanks in advance to anybody
who helps Wildlife Program out with this important part of our deer management
efforts in Region 5.
Pigeon Mineral Spring
search: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and a local volunteer searched
for a new site to conduct mineral spring/roost surveys in the Lower Columbia.
The historic site at Pigeon Bluff had ~ 30 crows and 3 bald eagles but no pigeons
in attendance. Pigeon numbers using this site have declined in recent years
and an alternative site is needed. The area from Jim Crow creek to Gray's Point
was scanned from the river and approximately 23 bald eagles were observed but
no pigeons. The mineral spring survey is a Pacific Flyway management tool to
monitor trends in band-tailed pigeons throughout the breeding range.
Hoof Rot in Elk: District Wildlife Biologist Miller has been contacted by a hunter with an August
Boistfort hunt permit regarding limping elk. This hunter has been scouting several
days and observed that many of the elk in the Wildwood Valley are showing signs
of hoof rot. In one herd of 34, 7 elk were limping and 2 looked as if they might
not survive long. Local landowners confirm these observations and are very concerned
about their livestock being infected by elk. The hunter was worried about the
health of the elk if he happened to shoot one that was not visibly limping but
had miss-shaped hooves. Increasing number of calls have been received this year
regarding reports of limping elk with callers concerned about consumption of
the animals, spread of disease to livestock, and overall health of the herds.
Staff have drafted a proposal to examine this issue, which is currently in review.
area on the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Vancouver Lake Fire: While conducting a routine
site visit on the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area, Wildlife
Area Assistant Manager Hauswald was contacted by a member of the public wanting
to know why we were burning an area along the shoreline of the lake. Hauswald
informed them that we were not doing any burning and went to investigate. Upon
arrival he found a burned area of about ½ acre in, and adjacent to, riparian
vegetation near the lakeshore. The fire had already burned itself out and stopped
when it reached green vegetation and the edge of a service road. Several small
sites were still smoldering which he put out with a shovel. The source of ignition
is not clear. Possible sources include a tossed cigarette and sparks from an
un-permitted fire, which we sometimes find along the lake. It is also possible
that it was a result of brush clearing on the site several days prior to it
being discovered. The photo at right shows a portion of the site. Because the
site was already targeted for restoration, the fire was of no real impact to
habitat on the site. The objective of the restoration is to remove Himalayan
blackberry and replace it with desirable vegetation.
the old railroad bridge in Dead Canyon is part of the KWA's Road Maintainance
and Abandonment Plan.
Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan Activity: Manager VanLeuven conducted
a site visit of the old railroad bridge in Dead Canyon. The proposal to remove
the bridge, as well as the fill at each end of the bridge, is part of the KWA's
Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan. As this site involves a historic structure,
a preliminary assessment is needed, which includes photo documentation. Manager
VanLeuven also wanted to evaluate the amount of potential habitat damage that
could occur by moving equipment into the area to deal with the bridge removal
- an approach from the south end of the old rail bed would probably cause the
least amount of impact. However, coming from the north would be more difficult
and cause more oak and pine habitat damage. Additionally, there is a good fence
built right on the old rail bed that would be damaged if equipment were moved
through there. Manager VanLeuven believes the project can be satisfactorily
handled at reasonable cost by simply removing 50 or 60 feet of fill from each
end of the bridge and piling it on the old rail bed nearby. This would cause
less habitat and fence damage, would open up the floodplain of the creek, and
would leave the historic concrete structure intact.
WCC Crew Activities: Manager VanLeuven continues to work with the WCC crew. The crew finished a fence
repair job near the KWA office, collected old fence wire that had been left
on the ground, piled dead material near camping areas for burning later, and
checked an area where they had planted trees and shrubs along the Klickitat
River last spring. The single-strand electric fence to exclude cattle has been
surprisingly effective and the trees and shrubs look healthy. VanLeuven is very
pleased with the work they accomplished for this project, which was conducted
under guidance of Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group. An additional positive
point is that the livestock owner provided the fencing and is maintaining the
fence as well.
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis) a unique subspecies of the Red
10 held its local public meeting in Toledo to present proposed changes for
the next 3 year hunting cycle.
Carnivore Surveys: The South Cascades Carnivore Project was initiated
in February 2008 by wildlife biologist Jocelyn Akins as a partnership between
wildlife conservation experts and citizens to monitor forest carnivore populations
using non-invasive remote detection methods. Crews work in cooperation with
Distirct Biologist Anderson of WDFW to fill forest carnivore conservation needs.
Research efforts recently produced a photograph of a Cascade Red Fox (Vulpes
vulpes cascadensis) at 6600 ft on in the Mt Adams Wilderness. Little is
known about this genetically and ecological unique subspecies of Red Fox. The
project intends to focus efforts on further detections to gain a better understanding
of this high-elevation native fox, and other rare forest carnivores in the South
Cascades. Current plans are to continue this effort through the winter of 2008-2009.
Three Year Hunting Season Evaluation: District 10 held its local public
meeting in Toledo to present proposed changes for the next 3 year hunting cycle.
This was our first local meeting in Toledo and it was well received by the local
community. We had a variety of interested people that attended providing diverse
input, including local landowners as well as large timber and agricultural landowners
in the area. Most comments from the public were favorable to WDFW proposed changes;
especially those related to addressing elk damage issues.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Shillapoo Fence Repairs: Wildlife Area Assistant
Manager Hauswald and Technician Babcock have completed the repair of another
1/4 mile of boundary fence at the northwest portion of the South Unit. This
included removal and replacement of all wire, straightening almost every t-post,
rebuilding one stretch brace, and replacing a few of the wood posts along the
line. This fence is largely administrative and its primary purpose is to identify
the area boundary for the public. Another section to repair is immediately to
the south and will require almost total replacement. However, we may shift our
next fencing work to the North Unit where a fence is planned to improve pasture
management associated with a grazing lease. The rationale behind shifting sites
has to do primarily with the logistics of working at the North Unit pasture
site during the wet season and we would like to complete as much of the work
as possible before the rains begin.
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife
Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Maintenance Activities: Wildlife Area
Manager Calkins replaced signage regarding the prohibition of dogs on the wildlife
area, delivered one ton fertilizer for use later this fall, pulled diffuse and
spotted knapweed at two locations, and made repairs to tubes placed over seedling
trees planted this spring on a recent visit to the mudflow portion of the Wildlife
Area. We have been conducting control work at two knapweed locations for several
years. Both sites were about 1/4 acre in size when first detected. This year
we have found only about 50-60 plants in an area of about 200 square feet at
the diffuse knapweed site and only found 5 plants at the spotted knapweed site
in only a few square feet. Both of these infestations are associated with past
stream crossing construction projects on the area and the original seed was
probably transported in on construction equipment.
With high elk densities
here, establishing coniferous trees for erosion control purposes has been a
challenge. Cottonwood and a variety of conifer seedlings had tree tubes placed
on them this spring at the time of planting to protect them from elk browsing
until they were established. Survival this year among trees checked so far appears
to be good at this time and is estimated at about 80% or higher. An unanticipated
glitch has caused us to have to spend additional time maintaining the tubes.
The zip ties that came with the tubes will not hold securely to the 3/8"
rebar stakes that we have to use because wood stakes snap off too easily when
an animal hits them. Many of the tubes on the cottonwoods had come off of the
stakes and it appears that some of the elk have learned to grasp the loose end
of the zip tie with their mouth and pull the tube off the stake exposing the
plant with highly palatable fresh growth. In response, we are adding a second
small zip tie around the stake and original tie which appears to be working.
Many of these plants will have a 4-6 foot high 12" diameter hand made wire
tube placed on them later as a further measure of protection beyond that provided
by the plastic tubes.
Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Blackberry Control: Manager VanLeuven finalized arrangements for blackberry
control at the Sondino Unit. Discussion with the contractor included choice
of herbicide and adjuvant that is less hazardous in case of accidental exposure
to people and their approval for use right up to the edge of water. The contractor
will avoid areas near water or on non-target trees and shrubs as well as upland
areas where western pond turtles may be present. This is a good time to spray
for blackberries because water levels are down and most of the plants are on
dry ground. Blackberries have spread quite a bit due to minimal control effort,
and will not be eradicated n just one year. Some of the plants may require physical
removal by a labor crew due to proximity of desirable vegetation or animal activity.
Swale Creek Unit:
Write up [PDF
Version] by Habitat Biologist Weiler on the new acquisition of Swale
Creek to the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
Sandhill Crane Management: Biologist Anderson met with DNR foresters
to evaluate a proposed timber sale that is located in sandhill crane habitat
in the Glenwood Valley. The primary issue is timber harvest adjacent to a large
meadow and wetland complex. Timing restrictions for timber harvest will be put
in place near the meadow habitat. Additional discussions will occur with DNR
wildlife biologists about a future habitat improvement project to increase openings
around the meadow and to improve wetland habitat conditions for breeding sandhill
Deer Productivity Surveys: With the help of various volunteers from the
Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club, Biologist Holman conducted a deer spotlighting
survey in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). One hundred thirty-three deer
were located over the course of the 4-hour survey. Productivity surveys are
conducted annually between August 15th and September 30th. Data gained from
these efforts and through the work of volunteer deer surveyors throughout the
Region will be incorporated into the Region 5 deer management effort.