swifts use the old Icehouse building at the Mineral Springs Campground for
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Vaux Swifts: Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven continued to monitor
Vaux's swift use of the old Icehouse building at the Mineral Springs Campground.
While there, Manager VanLeuven talked to 6 people camped onsite who agreed to
call with their observations of birds using the chimney (VauxSwift.JPG).
Deer and Elk Survey Protocol Review: Biologist Holman provided edits
and reviews of the statewide summary of deer and elk survey protocols provided
by Game Division Staff. At least 10 different types of deer and elk surveys
are conducted during different portions of the year in Region 5. Most surveys
are centered around the collection of sex and age ratio data for inclusion into
population models or evaluation of long-term trends. The Regional review is
part of a statewide effort to consolidate, standardize, and document what is
collectively done in the State to quantify populations of deer and elk.
Goose Nest Surveys: This year’s goose nest surveys identified 357 active nests on nine islands
in the Lower Columbia River. This number is a slight increase over last year’s
survey numbers, but is consistent with the thought that these islands are supporting
a fairly stable nesting population. Miller Sands Island had twelve less nests
than last year while Eureka Island supported seventeen more nests in 2008 as
compared to 2007. The concern still remains that 74% of all nests occur on Miller
Sands Island; if a major stochastic event occurred on this island a possible
dramatic effect could be seen on the whole nesting population. During the survey,
fifty-five “dark” goose nests were recorded. This number is ten
more than in 2007, but “dark” nests are identified by site of the
flushed adult birds and therefore a certain amount of error is contained in
this estimate and technique. Coordinates were collected on the identified dark
nests and they will be revisited in the future. This is all part of an effort
to band all of these “dark” geese and goslings.
Nest Survey - 1987-2008
Bald Eagle Carcass Recovery: Biologist Holman recovered the carcass of
an adult bald eagle per the guidelines prepared by Dr. Mansfield and Jim Watson.
The eagle carcass was sent to Washington State University for disease and toxin
testing. Thanks to Clark County residents John and Mandy Maul for their attention
to the bald eagles that share their property.
Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson coordinated a two day survey for nesting sandhill cranes
on the Conboy National Wildlife Refuge in Klickitat County. A total of 11 pairs
of cranes were verified to be on nests with another 4 pairs located near or
in their territories. Four other nesting pairs were not accounted for during
this survey but follow-up checks will be made in mid May to verify their status.
2009-11, 3-year Season Setting Process: Biologist Holman prepared several
Regional considerations for changes in hunting seasons for the 2009-11, 3-year
period. This year a template has been developed by Game Division Staff to help
standardize and formalize the process for this effort. Some of the preliminary
issues that Region 5 will seek public input on regard improving difficult boundaries
in several GMUs and continuing the effort to improve the quality of deer hunting
in the Klickitat County GMUs.
Mt. St. Helens Elk Mortality
Survey: Region 5 staff and 24 volunteers participated in the annual elk
winter mortality survey on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Data are being
compiled and verified with a final tally to be completed this week. We appreciate
all the effort and time of all who participated.
Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Anderson reports that the western pond
turtle field crew has captured over 180 western pond turtles in Klickitat this
spring and has attached transmitters to 22 females. Transmitters are placed
on females in order for biologists to monitor turtle nesting sites. The majority
of transmitters have been placed on turtles that came from the head start program.
In addition, plans are being made to capture turtles in Skamania County to evaluate
our ability to estimate population changes. We are currently working with research
division staff to develop methodology for a mark recapture program.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Projects: The warmer weather has brought more
people out for recreational activities on the Wildlife Area as well as the surrounding
area and Wildlife Area Manager VanLeuven responded to many recreational inquiries.
Manager VanLeuven prepared 4 project plans for the WCC crew, conducted orientation
regarding WDFW's land management objectives, held training on fencing construction
standards, and showed the WCC crew the worksites in the project plans. The WCC
crew commenced their projects this week. Manager VanLeuven also completed this
year’s grazing unit vegetation monitoring photo series and cleaned 10
guzzlers. In addition, Manager VanLeuven is working collaboratively with a Wildlife
Area neighbor to construct a new fence on a common property line to control
cattle. A construction plan was drafted including guidelines for standard specifications
for construction to meet WDFW standard of quality.
Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Wetland Projects: Wildlife area staff made field visits with local habitat
biologist Bell and environmental engineer Klavis to go over this year’s
wetland projects. Discussions included required permitting and engineered designs
for dike breaching and removal on the Spears and Kiona Units of the Wildlife
Area. 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.
Mt. St. Helens Elk Mortality Survey: The Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
was recently surveyed for elk losses due to winter conditions. This is an annual
survey that is conducted to evaluate the winter impacts to elk in the North
Toutle valley. The area is divided into 8 survey segments and approximately
24 volunteers and 10 agency staff participated in the survey.
All of the data from this
year’s elk mortality surveys has been reviewed and checked for accuracy.
The final number of winter elk mortalities on Mt. St. Helen’s Wildlife
Area is 158. The breakdown of age structure for the mortalities is as follows:
33% calves (52), 17% yearlings (27), 46% adults (72), and 4% (7) unknown. A
little under half (48% or 76) of the mortalities were females, 16% (25) males,
and 36% (57) were of unknown sex. Most of the unknowns were also classified
The winter of 2008 was a
particularly harsh one with 213-250% of normal snow pack reported. Throughout
SW Washington reports of elk mortalities were common, especially so in the Cascades.
The high number of mortalities found on the wildlife area is probably a good
indicator that mortality rates throughout the region were drastically higher
this year than in previous years.
A big thank-you to all of
the volunteers and WDFW employees that helped out with this survey and a special
thanks to Representatives Orcutt and Blake for lending a helping hand.
Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Holman initiated a western pond turtle
capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife
Refuge. Forty-one 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.
Following the first three days of trapping, a total of 56 western pond turtle
captures have been recorded encompassing 39 different individual turtles. Fifty
incidental captures of painted turtles have been recorded as well. Thanks to
Fisheries Biologist Groesbeck, Priority Habitat and Species Biologist Azerrad,
Technician Ridenour and Customer Service Specialist Gonzalez for their much
needed help during the first few days of this project.
Sandhill Cranes: Breeding surveys for sandhill cranes continued this week. Three territories
have verified young and several other pairs continue to incubate eggs. Water
levels have started to rise in wetlands as snowmelt increases with warming weather
at the end of the week. This year’s runoff should prove to be beneficial
for nesting sandhill cranes.
REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS
Range Sampling: Wildlife Area manager VanLeuven worked with
Range Biologist Asher to sample range plants at the Klickitat Wildlife Area
exclosures. The spring sampling effort focuses on the smaller plants such as
grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs. Each plant present on the plot is identified
and assigned a number that represents its abundance on the plot area. Ten species
of grass, 34 species of forbs, and 7 species of shrubs were found within the
plots. The plots are sampled every 3 to 5 years, to document any changes that
occur in the range plant community on the grazing permit area.
Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman continued the
western pond turtle capture effort at the Pierce Ranch Unit of the Ridgefield
National Wildlife Refuge. Forty-one 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. Extremely high Columbia River water and cool, rainy weather have
reduced the rate of turtle captures. Following the first 10 days of trapping,
a total of 96 western pond turtle captures have been recorded, encompassing
50 different individual turtles. Sixty incidental captures of painted turtles
have been recorded as well. Thanks to Wildlife Biologist Prince, Fisheries Biologist
Groesbeck, Customer Service Specialist Gonzalez, and Volunteer Renan for their
help during this stage of the project.
Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson coordinated a two-day breeding survey for sandhill cranes
in Klickitat County. Ground surveys were followed up by a helicopter survey
of Conboy National Wildlife Refuge, Yakima Indian Reservation, State, and private
lands to determine this year’s sandhill crane breeding status. A total
of 22 pairs of cranes were located with 8 colts (crane young). Several pairs
were still incubating eggs. Water conditions this year are favorable to sandhill
crane breeding success as snowpack continues to melt and maintain seasonal wetland
Oak Habitat Management: Upland Game Section Manager Cope, National Wild Turkey Federation representatives
Thiebes and Mathis, Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, District Biologist Anderson,
and Klickitat WA manager VanLeuven met on site to continue discussions and planning
for oak habitat improvement in Klickitat County. The Klickitat Wildlife Area
and surrounding ownerships were chosen as initial project areas for the oak
improvement project and the group met with Hancock Timber representatives as
well to discuss potential cooperative projects on their lands. The 2-day field
visit was very productive and set the stage for moving forward with regard to
identifying and developing overall goals, habitat conditions that need improvement,
general prescriptions, and specific project areas. 2008 will be used primarily
for planning and mapping potential project areas with the goal of on the ground
oak/conifer habitat improvement starting in 2009.