REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Wildlife Area Managers have been working hard this week on finalizing their
Recreation and Conservation Office grant applications to secure funding for
a variety of important projects for these Wildlife Areas (e.g., species and
habitat restoration, access improvements).
Private Lands Access: Biologist Anderson met with a landowner in the
Trout Lake Valley that has a Hunt by Written Permission contract with WDFW.
Restricted Hunting Permits were picked up and discussions were initiated about
potential habitat improvement projects that could occur on his land for improved
oak habitat. The landowner is very pleased with the current program and would
like to see it expanded.
Clark County Bald Eagles: A combined effort by Biologist Holman and various
volunteers checked several of the known bald eagle nesting territories in Clark
County. Most sites are occupied and productivity looks good in spite of the
long rainy spring. Especially prominent and popular is the bald eagle pair at
Battle Ground Lake State Park. Visitors to the Park enjoy watching the eagles
hunt this volcanic lake surrounded by large Douglas fir and cedar trees. Mallard
ducks and planted rainbow trout provide most meals for these popular eagles.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven conducted a bluebird
nest box survey on the Wildlife Area. Of 25 nest boxes checked, 9 were occupied
by western bluebirds. Another box contained a dead juvenile bluebird. One box
was destroyed by vandals and two dead birds were found in the debris on the
ground. One box was occupied by swallows and one box was occupied by an unknown
species of songbird. One box contained an egg (not bluebird), but seemed to
be abandoned (the roof of the box was torn off). Eleven boxes were unoccupied.
Manager VanLeuven worked
with WCC on the Sondino Unit on fence repairs and preparing wide fuel breaks
in the grass along a property line. The crew was able to observe at least 7
western pond turtles during their visit.
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 birds 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.
Biologists Holman and Prince
completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Cedar Creek site.
A total of 312 pigeons arrived at the mineral spring during the course of the
survey. The result at the Cedar Creek site is somewhat higher than those of
recent years. Pigeon surveys are scheduled for next week at additional mineral
sites in Region 5.
Operation Dark Goose: Biologists from WDFW, ODFW, USFWS, Oregon State University, and volunteers combined
to capture geese on Miller Sands Island this week. The object of the capture
is to band and neck collar geese that resemble the Dusky goose, which is managed
by harvest quota through Pacific Flyway regulations. These local birds nest
on Miller Sands Island and do not migrate to the Copper River delta in AK.
A helicopter is used to
coax the birds into the trap where they are banded and collared for future identification
at hunter check stations and in field surveys. Young birds are released with
adults to facilitate family groups getting together soon after release. Birds
are handled carefully to avoid injuries due to the capture and processing.
A big thanks to all the
volunteers and agency personnel that made this project a success.
|Sandhill Crane Survey
Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson and Stocking continue to survey sandhill
cranes in Klickitat County. This year sandhill crane colt (young) production
has been outstanding. To date we have banded six colts with significant assistance
from local volunteers in the community. This large number of early season nest
successes has not been documented in the Glenwood Valley for many years. We
typically rely on second nesting attempts for much of any particular years colt
productivity. There are at least three additional colts that will be targeted
for banding in upcoming weeks. This years early success has been attributed
to favorable wetland nesting conditions created by higher than normal spring
run-off. An aerial survey is scheduled for next week to further monitor other
nesting pairs that have been more elusive during our weekly ground surveys.
household garbage and remodeling debris were removed from old borrow pit
on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Mineral Springs Cleanup: Manager VanLeuven worked with the WCC crew to
clean up a dumping site on the Mineral Springs Unit. Accumulated household garbage
and remodeling debris were removed from an old borrow pit near Hwy 142 and loaded
into a WDFW flatbed truck for disposal at the Goldendale transfer station. Woody
limbs trimmed from ornamental trees and shrubs were left on site to decompose
naturally. After picking up the refuse, the WCC crew constructed a barrier of
rocks and a shallow ditch across the access road into the pit to eliminate driving
access. Work was interrupted for about 20 minutes by shooting overhead. Manager
VanLeuven located the shooter, advised him that a crew was working nearby, and
requested that all shooting stop for the rest of the day. Despite hot conditions,
difficult work, and poison oak presence, the crew successfully completed the
project. Manager VanLeuven will also post signs.
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.
Wildlife Biologist Holman
completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey at the Kalama River site.
A total of 350 pigeons arrived at the mineral spring during the course of the
survey. The result at the Kalama River site is somewhat higher than those of
Wildlife Biologist Anderson
completed the band-tailed pigeon mineral site survey along the Wind River in
Skamania County. A total of 141 band -tailed pigeons were counted at the mineral
spring during the course of the survey. This count is down from previous years’
survey results. During the survey, an adult bald eagle spent considerable time
perching and foraging immediately adjacent to the mineral springs. The presence
of the bald eagle no doubt influenced the low count at the mineral spring in
comparison to past years.
Wildlife Biologists Miller
and Prince met with Weyerhaeuser Vail tree farm staff to secure a key and discuss
the mineral spring survey. Access to the site is via Weyerhaeuser roads but
the birds are actually using a site on private property. We sent a letter to
the landowner advising of the survey and requesting permission to complete the
survey. The survey has been conducted for many years and yields valuable data
on band-tailed pigeon population trends.
Marbled Murrelet Survey: Wildlife Biologist Prince assisted Biologist
Ritchie with a marbled murrelet survey in Naselle this week. Marbled murrelets
are fairly small seabirds that travel up to 45 miles to nest in old growth coastal
forests. The site that was surveyed had very high activity; however, only one
pair of birds showed any nesting behavior. Biologist Prince was going to assist
Biologist Ritchie next week with a murrelet survey in Chehalis, but this has
been canceled because roads leading to the survey area are impassable. The Chehalis
site is a long term monitoring site for murrelets and can hopefully be reached
next year for surveys.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Purple Loosestrife Bio-control Release: Assistant Manager Hauswald
released 250 Galerucella calmariensis adult insects as a bio-control
agent for purple loosestrife along the south shoreline of Vancouver Lake. The
insects feed on the foliage of the plant preventing it from going to seed and
will eventually kill the plant itself. Loosestrife has been an increasing problem
along the shoreline of the Wildlife Area which, if left untreated, can out compete
and displace native plants and animals in the area’s wetlands. The release
was in coordination with Clark County Weed Management, which supplied the insects
for the release.
Field Activities: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins completed replacing posts as needed and built
two stretch braces along 1/4 mile of fence being repaired on the South Unit.
This fence is now ready to run new wire. Technician Babcock removed wire from
another 1/4 mile of fence to be repaired and trimmed limbs, weeds, and grass
along its’ length in preparation for running the new wire. Babcock and
Assistant Manager Hauswald continued mowing pastures to control weeds and maintain
them for winter use by geese and Sandhill Cranes. The smaller tractor we use
broke down and was hauled to a dealer to be assessed. The engine lost all of
its’ coolant rapidly due to a loose drain petcock that caught on some
vegetation and overheated severely. We believe that this will be a major repair.
Hauswald has continued to focus daily on water drawdowns in wetland basins in
the Vancouver Lake Unit and this task is finally nearing completion. It appears
that we achieved good control of reed canary grass with the good water year
and particularly in areas where disking treatments were applied last summer.
This should result in good stands of native seed producing plants that are particularly
attractive to waterfowl.
Klickitat Wildlife Area:
DNR and WCC Collaboration: Manager VanLeuven met with DNR to discuss campground
improvement work they have offered to complete. The DNR crews have already completed
a lot of cleaning up this year and have placed logs to discourage people from
driving into areas they shouldn't - the campgrounds look good. Manager VanLeuven
took the fire crew supervisor on a driving tour and discovered that several
trees had fallen across the roads. Provided with a map, the crew supervisor
sawed the roads open. During the tour, Manager VanLeuven found that a patch
of Canary grass is growing next to an important pond in a western gray squirrel
area. It is also present along the edge of another pond near the Sheep Canyon
Rd. VanLeuven will take action to eradicate this extremely invasive grass. .
Manager VanLeuven wrote
a plan for the WCC crew for a forest thinning project along the Anderson Road
and Old Headquarters Rd. VanLeuven toured an area that has been thinned with
the WCC crew and then had the crew practice all appropriate techniques at the
KWA Headquarters, observing all the rules for operating the equipment and use
of appropriate safety gear.
Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman continued the western
pond turtle capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield National
Wildlife Refuge. Thirty basking traps have been set in 4 different water-bodies
in an attempt to capture as large a portion of the Refuge's pond turtle population
as possible. This is an extension of the 14-day trapping effort conducted in
May. Environmental conditions for captures have been suitable but far from ideal.
While there were high levels of cold water combined with cool weather in the
May trapping effort; warm, shallow water has made the July effort a challenge.
Ideal conditions are cold water with hot sunny days. Results of the effort will
be the subject of future reports. Thanks to Wildlife Program Manager Jonker,
Fisheries Biologist Groesbeck, Scientific Technician Pyzik, Biologist Prince,
and Customer Service Specialist Varshock for their help during this stage of
Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson is currently reviewing a USFS proposal for trail development
near a peregrine falcon eyrie in the Columbia River Gorge. At issue is the presence
of an undeveloped and unapproved trail that is being considered for upgrade
that will increase recreation near an established peregrine falcon nest site.
Further development of the trail will violate current federal and state guidelines
for protection of peregrine nest sites. The USFS has proposed three alternatives
that call for no trail, full trail development, and a trail with seasonal restrictions.
Development of the trail has other problems including safety issues and modification
of talus habitat.
Pigeon Mineral Springs Survey: Survey Biologist Prince completed the
Newaukum River band-tailed pigeon survey this week. The morning started off
a little slow, but picked up towards the middle of the survey and a decent amount
of pigeons were recorded. The actual mineral spring that draws the pigeons to
the area is out of site, so pigeons are recorded as they land in the trees surrounding
the site. From the survey location pigeons can be seen dropping into the site
and then returning to the trees before eventually departing. The number of pigeons
arriving and departing the site for every thirty-minute interval is recorded
on the datasheet. These surveys provide the state a long-term dataset for pigeons
and population trend information.
Boat safety: District
Wildlife Biologist Miller assisted with a Motorboat Operator Certification Class
(MOCC) in Spokane this week. All agency employees who operate boats need to
complete MOCC within the next 2-3 years as new rules about boat training are
implemented. The training is a mixture of classroom and on the water exercises
lasting 3 days and employees get to operate a variety of vessels that are used
within WDFW. Participants in last week’s class were from the Wildlife,
Fish, and Habitat programs from all over the state. Miller will be involved
in additional classes in August and October of this year and for 3-4 weeks in
2009. The class schedule for 2009 has not yet been developed, but will be announced
hopefully in October of this year.