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
TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
January 2008

January 3, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Injured Tundra Swan Captured: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald, with help from Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, captured a juvenile Tundra Swan on Clark County Parks property adjacent to the Vancouver Lake Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. While Hauswald was surveying the water levels of the wetland basins on the parks property he noticed the swan, which had the behavior of a sick or injured bird. With his first capture attempt being unsuccessful; due to the swan swimming into thick Reed Canary Grass and losing visual contact, he contacted Calkins for assistance in spotting and tracking the swan from a higher vantage point. With Calkins using a portable radio to guide Hauswald, and after trailing the bird for nearly two hundred yards through thigh high water and tangled grass to the edge of the wetland, Hauswald was finally able to capture the injured swan. The swan was then transported to the regional office, where it was picked up by a Portland Audubon volunteer and taken to their wildlife recovery center. Hauswald contacted the recovery center two days later to check on the diagnosis and condition of the swan. The swan had a wounded wing possibly from flying into the power lines next to the wetland where it had been captured. It was in good and improving condition, but it is still uncertain if it will make a full recovery.

Stabilization Project
Stabilization Project
The Lower Columbia Regional Fish Enhancement Group (LCRFEG) recently completed work on a riparian enhancement project intended to reduce erosion of elk winter range on the mudflow, improve fish habitat, and decrease sediment movement in the Toutle River system.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
First Stabilization Project Completed:
The Lower Columbia Regional Fish Enhancement Group (LCRFEG) recently completed work on a riparian enhancement project intended to reduce erosion of elk winter range on the mudflow, improve fish habitat, and decrease sediment movement in the Toutle River system. Biologists working for the Cowlitz tribe secured funding for the project through a $40,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology. Habitat biologists and technical specialists from WDFW's Habitat Program also engaged in the design of the project.

The project resulted in three "L" shaped structures resembling pile dikes that are intended to pool water behind them trapping sediment and diverting the water away from the erosion prone edge of the mudflow. The piles were put in place by Mike Watters Excavation of Vancouver, using a modified rock hammer. A second excavator was used to pre-position each log prior to driving.

During fall, winter, and spring the Toutle River changes course frequently at higher flows and some habitat losses, including elk forage and riparian plantings, have already occurred this year. The benefits of the project became evident the first day after the first structure was completed. When the construction crew arrived the next day they found that at least three feet of material had been deposited in the area behind the piles and the main flow of the river had been deflected away from the bank, which protects the area below it from erosion. This not only provides increased stability, but also amounts to additional area where riparian and forage plantings can occur in the future. Plans are already in place for both tree planting and seeding later this winter and spring.

WDFW has received other grant funding for this type of work, which is in the planning stages and The LCRFEG has also submitted other applications for grant funding for further work on the site. While structures like these serve as an initial stabilization measure, it is still critical that we continue our efforts to establish tree and shrub cover to provide long-term stability and improved habitat for fish, elk, and a wide diversity of other species.

GAME DIVISION

Region 5 Post-Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman and Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven conducted an aerial survey of the post-hunting season deer herd in GMU 388 (Grayback). District Wildlife Biologist Anderson provided the ground support and satellite-based flight following for the flight. The survey conditions were good with clear skies, little wind, and a largely snow-covered backdrop for the effort. Additionally, Biologist Holman conducted ground-based post-season surveys in GMU 382 (East Klickitat). Initial results appear promising and a summary of this-year's post-season deer surveys in Grayback and East Klickitat will be the topic of a future weekly report.

January 7, 2008

GAME DIVISION

SW Washington Canada Goose Season Area 2a: The Canada goose hunting season in Area 2A continues. Through the end of December the hunt has offered average success among those checking geese at check stations, though overall harvest is lower than that of recent years. 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 612 hunters having harvested a total of 1132 geese. This makes an average of 1.8 birds per hunter among those who brought geese to the check stations.

Goose season 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.

Midwinter Waterfowl Index: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and Fish and Wildlife Science Technician Ridenour completed the Midwinter Waterfowl Index ground survey for Wahkiakum County. A total of 1,279 geese and 142 ducks were observed. The flocks of geese were mostly comprised of cackling, Taverner/lesser, and western Canada geese, although one Aleutian and one white-fronted goose were observed. The majority of ducks observed were primarily ring-necked ducks, American wigeon, mallards, and mergansers.

Beginning in 1955, state and federal biologists conduct annual aerial and ground surveys to provide a key index of U.S. waterfowl populations. For many areas, this is the only estimate of waterfowl use. The survey also provides estimates of the size of goose and swan populations and tracks population trends of duck species that nest outside of breeding survey areas (Pacific Flyway Council).

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson is currently developing a new scope of work and budget for the Columbia River Gorge western pond turtle project. This proposal is for fiscal 2008 work to be conducted under contract with the Bonneville Power Administration. The new contact will start March 1st and continue to support WDFW efforts to recover the western pond turtle in the Columbia River Gorge.

January 14, 2008

Snow and ice conditions hampered elk survey efforts.
Snow and ice conditions hampered elk survey efforts.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Elk Monitoring:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins counted 439 elk using the Wildlife Area on January 7th. Efforts to count elk the previous week were hampered by weather and road closures when SR 504 was closed at milepost 28 for several days due to snow and ice conditions. Snow was present on the day of the survey with estimated depths of one inch at 1000 feet, five inches at 2000 feet, and eight inches at 2500 feet. With only a small amount of snow covering the wildlife area, elk were seen feeding on grasses with apparent little difficulty. The photo at right shows a portion of the wildlife area was taken from the Weyerhaeuser Forest Learning Center during the survey.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Vancouver Tornado Narrowly Misses Shillapoo:
While the damage reported last week due to a tornado that struck parts of Vancouver and Clark County was all East of Vancouver Lake, there was a narrow swath of damage on the West side of the lake as well. Damage on this side of the lake included: part of an old hay shed and breakage of several large trees on Port of Vancouver Property. This swath of the damage was only 1,000 feet South of the large heron rookery on the South Unit, pointing out how vulnerable some of our critical wildlife sites are and the importance of protecting and enhancing other sites to provide future habitat if current features are lost due to natural disaster or other factors.

Oregon Brittany Club Presentation: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins spoke at the annual meeting of the Oregon Brittany Club in Boring, Oregon. The presentation covered management of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area, ongoing projects, and rules and opportunities pertaining to dog training and field trials. The most interesting point of discussion was generated by a question from the group concerning the use of horses in dog training. Calkins explained that there is no prohibition on horses on the Wildlife Area but in many areas it would be impractical due to the fencing needed to manage grazing programs. This is an activity that we have discussed recently with the Citizen Advisory Group who recommended that we not prohibit horses but suggested that we should not encourage horse use either.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Volunteer Recognition:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven would like to recognize and thank all the volunteers who helped accomplish many projects at the Klickitat Wildlife Area in 2007. These people contributed time, effort, and expertise to make things happen on the Wildlife Area, which has limited resources. These activities and projects are important to help foster quality wildlife-oriented recreation on WDFW lands, as well as enhancing habitat for wildlife.

  • Northwest Service Academy: Removal of derelict fencing and old homestead debris on the Sondino Unit.
  • Northwest Service Academy and Trout Unlimited: Streamside shrub restoration on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.
  • Trout Unlimited and Future Farmers of America high school students DJ Campbell and Aaron Brandt: Construction and installation of two duck nest boxes on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.
  • Gordon Johnson, Frank Thompson, Dick Wheelhouse, Oscar Johnson, and Larry Ritchie: Pheasant releases at all three sites in Klickitat County.
  • Jerry and Cathie Wilson: Litter collection and observation of activity on the Soda Springs Unit.
  • Dick Jenny: Tractor and small motors repair and maintenance, forage plot plowing and stick pile burning on the Soda Springs Unit, and chipping or burning woody debris at KWA Headquarters.
  • Bruce Hall: Maintenance of streamside plantings on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area Wildlife Area staff have been conducting winter waterfowl surveys. In addition, staff have been documenting abandoned vehicles and garbage dumping by several individuals. Information has been recorded and is being forwarded to Law Enforcement for action.

Ring-necked ducks foraging on the pond at the western end of Beacon Rock State Park.
Ring-necked ducks foraging on the pond at the western end of Beacon Rock State Park.

GAME DIVISION

Mid-winter waterfowl surveys: Biologist Holman completed the mid-winter waterfowl survey from the mouth of the Washougal River, up the Columbia to Bonneville dam. The results of the survey tallied: 1,626 ducks (primarily scaup on the Columbia River) and 683 Canada geese (mostly westerns). This year's survey included nearly identical numbers of geese but roughly 25% more ducks compared to the 2007 survey. The Columbia River attracts a wide variety of wintering waterfowl. The photo at right shows ring-necked ducks foraging on the pond at the western end of Beacon Rock State Park.

January 22, 2008

GAME DIVISION

Region 5 Deer Herd Composition Surveys: Biologist Holman compiled the black-tail and mule deer herd composition surveys that were completed in Region 5 during 2007. The surveys are conducted annually during the period beginning August 15 and continuing through September 30th. These data are used to estimate the annual ratio of fawns to does throughout the Region. These productivity data are then used as one of the inputs into the Region's Sex - Age - Kill method of population estimation. The 2007 effort involved the classification of over 750 deer and resulted in a fawn to doe ratio of 55:100. The 2007 ratio of 55 fawns per 100 does represents a return to average productivity in Region 5, following poor production of fawns in 2006.

Wildlife Program Staff along with volunteers actively conducted surveys as well as documenting any deer seen during other work (or play) activities during this time period. Thanks to all those that helped out with the deer surveys, especially the members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club as well as employees and contractors for Western Pacific, SDS, and Sierra Pacific timber companies. Also thanks to WDFW fisheries biologists Gray and Keller for their documentation of deer. Please see the figure below detailing the fawn to doe ratio and number of deer included in the effort from 1995-2007.

Region 5 Deer Herd Composition Surveys 2007
Region 5 Deer Herd Composition Surveys 2007

Mid Winter Waterfowl Surveys: District Wildlife Biologist Anderson completed the mid-winter waterfowl surveys between Bonneville Dam and John Day Dam on the Columbia River. All survey results have been tabulated and data have been submitted. Overall, waterfowl numbers for 2008 are similar to that of 2006 and 2007. Scaup numbers on the Columbia River were down by approximately 1500 birds, but mallards, widgeon, and gadwall were a bit higher than the past two years. Wintering conditions are generally favorable along the river, as most backwater sloughs, lakes, and wetlands appear to be open and available for foraging.

Pacific Joint Venture Proposal: District Wildlife Biologist Miller submitted a pre-proposal to fund hydro seeding on Hump Island in the Columbia River near Longview. Dredge material will be deposited on the island as part of a COE fish enhancement program and WDFW and WA DNR would like to test hydro seeding as a method to establish vegetation on islands that receive spoil materials.

January 28, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Emergency Winter Feeding Preparations:
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald have been fully occupied over the past week making preparations for implementation of an emergency winter feeding operation on the Wildlife Area. Details included: Securing permission to use a Department of Transportation facility for hay and equipment storage; Hiring temporary employees who will do most of the feeding; Picking up flatbed trucks from the Bob Oke Game Farm for daily feeding runs; Collecting and delivering pallets to the hay storage site; Locating an agency tractor capable of lifting and loading the 1300 lb bales; and Purchasing and scheduling of the hay delivery as well as gathering up dozens of small items needed for daily operations and safety. At this time, hay is expected to be delivered on the 28th with feeding operations expected to commence immediately after. The tractor is the only item that will not arrive until after that date but we will have the trucks loaded at the time of delivery, which should allow us to commence operations for a few days until the tractor arrives.

Calkins and Hauswald extend a special thanks to Wenas Wildlife Area Assistant Jody Taylor and Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Manager Bob Dice who were instrumental in helping to get the operation started. Taylor arranged the hay delivery, rounded up hay tarps and helped Calkins schedule the logistics. Manager Dice located and moved the agency tractor as far as the Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Naches where it will be picked up by Casey Morris of the Cowltz Wildlife Area next week to get it the rest of the way to Mt. St. Helens. Thanks also go to Paul Peterson and Larry Peterson of the Mossyrock and North Toutle Hatcheries who helped us locate and haul pallets to the site.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven provided a tour of the Wildlife Area to John Thiebes, who is working with WDFW and the National Wild Turkey Federation, to discuss several potential habitat improvement projects in the area.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman met with Biometrician Chang, Research Scientist Vanderhaegen, Pierce and Thurston County District Wildlife Biologist Tirhi, and Pierce and Thurston County Assistant Biologist Schmidt to discuss data collection and compilation efforts for western pond turtles. Regions 5 and 6 currently conduct various turtle trapping and monitoring efforts annually, leading to the capture of hundreds of individual turtles and the re-capture of many turtles. These efforts have focused on the capture of adult female western pond turtles and have not been standardized among sites, regions, or years. Similarly, data collection and recording efforts have not been standardized, centralized, nor designed specifically for population estimation.

Populations of western pond turtles in the Columbia River Gorge have increased significantly since the early 1990s when roughly 150 individuals occupied just two sites. Similarly, populations have increased at select locations in the south Puget Sound area. As western pond turtle management progresses into the future, the emphasis of the program will slowly change from head-starting and initiation of new sub-populations to monitoring of extant populations and habitat management activities. Standardization of data collection methods and monitoring efforts will allow for meaningful evaluation of progress towards the goals outlined in the State Recovery Plan for western pond turtles. Thanks to Wan-Ying Chang and Matt Vanderhaegen for their help in this effort.

One camera on Lord Island recorded 53 images of both black tail and white tailed deer
One camera on Lord Island recorded 53 images of both black tail and white tailed deer
One camera on Lord Island recorded 53 images of both black tail and white tailed deer

Wind Power: Biologist Anderson attended a statewide meeting of WDFW people currently working on wind power issues. WDFW has recently hired 3 biologists to develop and coordinate agency guidelines for development review and monitoring of wind projects around the state. Wind Power development has been growing exponentially the past 5 years and WDFW is increasingly being asked to review large-scale proposals, primarily in eastern Washington. Although wind power is generally believed to have minimal impacts on wildlife habitat, these projects are industrial developments frequently taking place in sensitive areas. The goal of this week’s meeting was to develop a statewide strategy for agency policy on development guidelines for project development and mitigation.

Remote Camera Monitoring: Volunteer Dan Howell and Science Technician Ridenour endured the sunny yet cold weather Tuesday to service USFWS remote cameras on 2 Columbia River islands. These cameras are used to record black-tailed deer and ESA listed Columbian white-tailed deer presence. Of the nine images recorded on Fisher Island, all were of coyotes. One camera on Lord Island recorded 53 images of both black tail and white tailed deer.

GAME DIVISION

St. Helens Land Access Program: The St. Helens Land Access Program is winding down after a successful first year. To thank the many volunteer organizations and their members, Weyerhaeuser, and WDFW staff, a luncheon was hosted to thank everyone for all their hard work and for doing such an excellent job! We had a great turn out and enjoyed sharing the many interesting experiences during this effort. We look forward to learning from our first year and implementing another great effort next year. Thank you to everyone for a fantastic job well done!