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Guy Norman

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
June 2008

June 2, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Mourning Dove Call Count Survey:
Manager VanLeuven completed a mourning dove call count survey from BZ Corner to Glenwood. Manager VanLeuven heard only 3 doves during the survey (no visual observations) and also saw 1 foraging sandhill crane during the survey. GPS coordinates were recorded for all listening stops on the dove survey route and current descriptions of the stops were written and sent to survey coordinator Kraege.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman concluded the 14-day western pond turtle capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Forty-one traps were set in 4 different water-bodies in an attempt to capture as large a portion of the Refuge's pond turtle population as possible. Extremely high Columbia River water and cool, rainy weather complicated the capture effort. A total of 130 western pond turtle captures have been recorded encompassing 55 different individual turtles. Sixty-nine incidental captures of painted turtles have been recorded as well. Thanks to Fisheries Biologist Groesbeck, Wildlife Biologist Prince, Priority Habitats and Species Biologist Azerrad, Technician Ridenour, Customer Service Specialist Gonzalez, and Volunteer Renan for their help during the project.

Sixty-six species of wildlife were incidentally observed and identified during the project. The combination of aquatic, wetland, riparian forest, mixed conifer-deciduous forest and meadow habitat provide habitat to a wide range of wildlife. Species observed include: Western pond turtle, western painted turtle, elk, black-tailed deer, coyote, otter, beaver, nutria, rabbit, wood duck, mallard, common merganser, great blue heron, osprey, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, red-winged blackbird, American goldfinch, California quail, American robin, starling, downy woodpecker, stellar's jay, crow, tree frog, chinook salmon, carp, catfish, sunfish (spp.), Canada geese, cormorant, bobcat, scrub jay, garter snake, pileated woodpecker, yellow warbler, hooded merganser, flicker, raven, Western tanager, barn swallow, tree swallow, band-tailed pigeon, spotted towhee, song sparrow, yellow-breasted chat, warbling vireo, swainson's thrush, common yellowthroat, Brewer's blackbird, cedar waxwing, peregrine falcon, purple finch, black-headed grosbeak, spotted sandpiper, rufous hummingbird, willow flycatcher, marsh wren, raccoon, Western wood pewee, black-capped chickadee, hairy woodpecker, meadow vole and Townsend's mole. Special thanks to Volunteer Renan for her ability to identify the wide variety of avian species present on the Refuge.

Habitat Conservation Plans: Region 5 Wildlife Areas are targeted for species and land management activity inventories this year as part of the statewide multi-year Habitat Conservation Plan effort. Olympia and Regional staff from Wildlife, Habitat, Fish, and Enforcement met to provide input and discuss the goals of the effort for the Cowlitz, Mt. St. Helens, Shillapoo, and Klickitat Wildlife Areas. The HCP will guide long-term conservation and protection of species and will ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

June 9, 2008

GAME DIVISION

Trout Lake Elk: Biologist Anderson is currently assisting the Enforcement Division with an elk damage issue in Klickitat County. Elk are currently impacting agricultural fields that were the first areas in the Trout Lake valley to open this spring from heavy snow pack. Several options are being considered to keep elk off high valued fields, including hazing, fencing, landowner access permits, and habitat manipulation.

Hoof Rot in Elk: District Wildlife Biologist Miller drafted a Protocol and Activity description for the exam of elk in Region 5 that are exhibiting signs of hoof rot. Reports have become numerous in recent years about sick and limping elk in the lower Cowltiz River Valley. Livestock owners are concerned about spread to their animals and hunters are worried about elk they see and harvest. Washington State University vet school personnel and WDFW veterinarian are interested in collecting sick elk to determine the cause of the condition and collecting apparently healthy elk to determine if the condition exists in most all animals.

3-Year package meeting: District Wildlife Biologist Miller met with Detachment 4 Fish & Wildlife Officers to introduce new Survey Biologist Prince and discuss management proposals for the upcoming 3-year package. Most of the discussions centered on the problem of urban elk in the Longview area and season strategies to try to reduce the herd in GMU 504 Stella. A scoping document was submitted to Wildlife Program Manager Jonker for inclusion in the public meeting process.

Commission Meeting: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker presented an overview of the Mt. St. Helens elk herd preliminary 2007 harvest data to the Commission. In addition, she provided an overview of the successful implementation of the cooperative Land Access Program with Weyerhaeuser and many volunteer organizations to provide additional weekday motorized access to the majority of Weyerhaeuser St. Helens Tree Farm during the special elk permit seasons. Forester LaFountaine from Weyerhaeuser and Co-founders Eaton and Schelcht of the South West Washing Land Access Coalition also provided testimony regarding the collaborative effort. We would like to thank everyone for their cooperation, patience, creativity, and all their amazing hard work at accomplishing a safe and successful first year: Weyerhaeuser, South West Land Access Coalition, Cowltiz Game and Anglers, Eyes In The Woods, WA State Archer Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Yacolt Burn Sportsmen Club, Vancouver Wildlife League, WA State Bowhunters, and WDFW staff.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Windpower Development: Biologist Anderson is currently assisting the habitat division with review and comment on new proposals for windpower in eastern Klickitat County. In the most recent development proposals, ferruginous hawks appear to be the raptor species of most concern to WDFW. Wind turbines are currently proposed within a ferruginous hawk nest territory raising concerns about the long term viability of this pair.

June 16, 2008

Grazing as management tool for winter waterfowl. Grazing as management tool for winter waterfowl.
Lakebed South Lakebed North
Grazing as management tool for winter waterfowl. Grazing as management tool for winter waterfowl.
North Pasture Chapman

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Babcock have been busy with several activities on the Wildlife Area. These include weed and blackberry spraying on the North Unit, fence repairs on the Vancouver Lake and South Units, and installation of tree protectors and mats on hundreds of trees planted earlier in the year. Regular visits are also made to structures that control water levels in managed wetlands to assure they are clear of debris and to check for beaver and nutria damage to flashboards.

Wildlife Area Manager Calkins set up a new methodology to illustrate the effectiveness of grazing in managing winter waterfowl pastures. This technique uses a visual metering target to illustrate vegetative density and height. For an example, see photos at right. Each square on the board is one foot. Ideally by the end of the grazing period, almost all of the board will be visible. The grazing objective for these pastures is to reduce vegetative height to 6 inches or less to foster use by Canada Geese.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Boulder Placement:
Manager VanLeuven requested assistance from WDFW Engineering Division in implementing a boulder placement project along Grayback and Sheep Canyon Roads. Approximately 350 boulders were placed along the road to better define the edge of the road and encourage drivers to stay on the road with their vehicles. The engineering staff were flexible in scheduling this project, accomplished the job quickly and with care, and the project turned out well.

Klickitat Wildlife Area road with boulders.
Approximately 350 boulders were placed along the road of the Klickitat Wildlife Area to better define the edge of the road and encourage drivers to stay on the road with their vehicles.

Sondindo Unit:
Manager VanLeuven checked on the cooperative effort between a neighbor and WDFW on installing a common boundary fence. The fence was built according to our specifications and is a very professional-looking job. The materials/labor agreement between WDFW and the neighbor was beneficial to both parties.

GAME DIVISION

Dark Goose Brood survey: District 10 personnel, along with volunteer Jarvis, completed a survey for dark goose broods in the vicinity of Miller Sands Island. This survey was combined with a streaked horn lark survey to save on boat fuel. Approximately 35-40 broods of dark geese were observed. A multi agency effort is planned to capture and mark these birds in July.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Bald Eagle Surveys: Biologist Holman participated in a helicopter survey of Bald Eagle territories in the Lower Columbia River from Interstate 5 to the River's mouth. The Oregon and Washington sides of the River were investigated, along with the various islands over the course of the two-day effort. Eagles occupy much of the suitable habitat on both sides of the River. Approximately 125 nesting territories are located along the 107-mile course of this portion of the Columbia. Initial results indicate good production of chicks again this year.

This survey is a joint effort between Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, WDFW, and the Corps of Engineers. The survey is coordinated by Oregon State University and OSU's Frank Isaacs had the lead on the survey effort and maintains the data related to this important eagle population.

Windfarm
WDFW is evaluating the potential issues associated with windpower and the protection of ferruginous hawk nesting sites.

Windpower: Biologist Anderson has been working with the habitat and research divisions to evaluate proposed windpower projects in Klickitat County. Several projects have already been built and several more are being planned in the last remaining quality shrub steppe habitat in Klickitat County. The most recent planned development is located in a high concentration area of ferruginous hawk territories, a state threatened species.

WDFW is trying to evaluate the potential issues associated with windpower and the protection of ferruginous hawk nesting sites. The attached photo was taken near an active ferruginous hawk nest located in the middle of a proposed wind farm. An adult ferruginous hawk was killed last year at the wind farm seen in the photo.

Watchable Wildlife: During dark goose banding surveys, the crew at Miller Sands was surprised to see a flock of 19 white pelicans at the downstream end of Miller Sands spit this week. White pelicans are rarely seen in the summer in western Washington and this sighting compliments others reported to WDFW recently.

June 23, 2008

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Vegetation Control: Assistant Manager Vanderlip has made several herbicide applications. Species targeted included Japanese knotweed, blackberry, and Canada thistle. The knotweed is located on the Spears unit and is composed of two very large, well-developed stands. The stands were partially cut to facilitate access and then the foliage and cane hollows sprayed. Approximately 3 acres of blackberry on the Davis Lake Units were sprayed and isolated scotch broom plants on the Spears unit were sprayed as well. The Japanese knotweed population on the Mossyrock unit was checked and a few plants were observed. They will be treated in the near future.

Moist Soil Management: CWA staff has started manipulation of the water levels on the Mossyrock ponds to prepare for this year’s activity, which include riser and dike maintenance.

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

GAME DIVISION

2009-2011 Three-Year Hunting Season Setting Process: Regional Wildlife Biologists along with Regional Program Manager Jonker conducted reviews of various proposals associated with the current hunting season setting process. A number of issues were presented by Olympia Game Management Staff for Regional review. Topics of discussion included allocation of both deer and elk hunting opportunities among the three user groups (Modern Firearm, Archery, and Muzzleloader), timing of seasons, and deer population objectives. Public input related to the various topics will be gathered through a statewide Internet survey, public meetings, and direct correspondence with WDFW Staff.

Private Lands Access: Biologist Anderson met with a private landowner in Klickitat County to review their current agreement with WDFW for hunter access. Riparian habitat plantings were evaluated and a review of hunter access issues was discussed. The agreement seems to be working well and WDFW agreed to look further into renewal of the existing CRP contract.

St. Helens Land Access Program: Volunteer organization leaders, Weyerhaeuser staff, and Region 5 WDFW staff met to debrief on last year’s Land Access Program and initiate the upcoming effort to provide additional weekday motorized access to the northern portion of the St. Helens Tree farm during special elk permit seasons. Lesson learned from last year were reviewed and discussions were productive on implementing this year’s program. A new volunteer sign-up database is being developed that will become accessible on WDFW’s website soon. Once again we would like to thank all the participants for their contribution and we look forward to implementing another safe and successful year.

G-MAP: Region 5 Wildlife Program Manager Jonker and Deputy Assistant Director of the Wildlife Program Pozzanghera presented an update for the Government Management, Accountability, and Performance session on the management of the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd. Updates on action items included the increase in special elk permit numbers, population monitoring, land access program, elk habitat restoration efforts, etc.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Slavens reports that we now have identified 18 nest sites at our ponds in Klickitat County. There are an additional 14 female turtles with working transmitters that can still nest this season. This year is shaping up to be one of our most successful seasons at identifying turtle nests for the "head start" program on record.

June 30, 2008

Large oaks found on the Klickitat Wildlife Area. Large oaks found on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
Large oaks found on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Range Transects:
Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven and retired WA Manager Morrison located old range transect markers that were established in 1952. The original iron stakes at all 5 sites were located and recorded using GPS. Very large oak trees by Klickitat County standards were observed at one of the transect locations. Many thanks to retired Manager Morrison for his assistance, which was crucial in finding these old transects for future collection of a new set of range data.

Hazard Tree Removal: Manager VanLeuven checked on the progress of the hazard tree removal project at the Canyon Creek Loop Campground. Trees and snags were identified for retention due to good nest habitat and cut trees that had fungal fruiting bodies on the trunk were left to decay onsite. Other trees identified for removal are being removed using a rubber-tracked log loader; this will cause less soil disturbance than other kinds of equipment and offers better control in moving logs around trees and other features that should not be damaged. Limbs have been stacked for disposal by chipping later in the summer. All work has been conducted in a way that avoids injuring green trees and large shrubs. The crew worked carefully around an active kestrel nest. Snags that could possibly hit the nest tree were cut down in sections, to minimize the risk to the nest tree. The crew was excited to report that the kestrel nestling fledged on Wednesday, and it successfully returned to the nest cavity after a couple short flights. Logs are stacked neatly along the access road for removal as soon as the log loader arrives.

GAME DIVISION

Landowner Access: Biologist Anderson met with Biologist Hand from Region 3 to discuss landowner contracts in Klickitat County. Biologist Hand has a history of working with many of these people and provided valuable insight into CRP and hunter access issues. In addition, Hand did a site visit and provided recommendations regarding an ongoing elk damage issue in the Trout Lake Valley. We thank Region 3 for providing Hand’s time for a day assisting Biologist Anderson.

Western pond turtle habitat at golf course.
There are many aspects of golf course management that provide habitat suitable for turtles (i.e., ponds, sand, short grass, etc.).

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtles: We now have 22 western pond turtles nests located in Klickitat County ponds this year. Nesting is slowing down some but we still anticipate a few double clutches for females that have already nested early in the year. We are currently working with both the Oregon and Woodland Park Zoos for release of 2007 turtles later in July. Biologist Anderson was contacted by Skamania Lodge golf course to assist them with their Audubon "green" certification". This program encourages golf courses to do water quality programs as well as wildlife projects to improve golf course "habitat". Skamania Lodge has two beautiful ponds that currently have a good population of western painted turtles. We discussed the potential of releasing western pond turtles in the future and the Lodge is very interested in the concept. There are many aspects of golf course management that provide habitat suitable for turtles (i.e., ponds, sand, short grass, etc.). WDFW would only consider this concept after we met population and habitat goals at existing sites in the Columbia River Gorge.

Wildlife Areas Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Development: Regional wildlife biologists met with HCP coordinator Dobler to discuss species-specific presence/absence on local wildlife areas. The Shillapoo and St. Helens wildlife areas, including all satellite units to each of the areas, were examined. Suitable habitat for species of conservation concern, including Federal and State listed species, is found on the majority of the wildlife area units.