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Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Vancouver, WA 98661

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
December 2009

December 28, 2009

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle: Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman completed a summary of the 2009 activities related to western pond turtle management in the Columbia River Gorge. A variety of tasks and projects comprise the annual turtle work including: collection of young for Head-Starting, population monitoring, habitat improvements and management, release of young into the wild, planning for future years work, bullfrog control, etc. The turtles now occupy four distinct locations in the Gorge and to date 1163 individual head-start turtles have been released into the population over the course of nearly 20 years. The summary is structured in the form of an annual report to BPA.

Forest Carnivore Project: Biologist Anderson is making preparations for this winter’s forest carnivore camera station monitoring in the South Cascades. Plans are being made with the USFS to support another season of winter camera monitoring around Mt Adams and the Goat Rocks. This season’s activities will include the placement and monitoring of cameras at locations generally above 4500 ft. WDFW is currently developing a MOU with the USFS for this work along with getting camera equipment and snowmobiles ready for the winter season.

December 14, 2009

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson is currently working with Bonneville Power Administration to develop a budget and scope of work for western pond turtle work in the Columbia River Gorge in 2010. The emphasis of next year’s project will be population monitoring and habitat improvement.

Biologist Holman continued to compile and summarize the 2009 activities related to western pond turtle management in the Columbia River Gorge. A variety of tasks and projects comprise the annual turtle work including: collection of young for Head-Starting, population monitoring, habitat improvements and management, release of young into the wild, planning for future years work, bullfrog control, etc. The summary will be structured in the form of an annual report to BPA.

Mt. St. Helen's Elk
Region 5 staff conducted the first monthly winter count of elk wintering on the mudflow portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area.

Assistance to Habitat Program: Biologist Holman provided input to Habitat Program Biologist Labbe regarding a BPA proposal to construct new electrical transmission lines from the Vancouver area to the Longview area. Several routes are proposed with various potential impacts to a host of natural resources. WDFW favors the use of a route that essentially follows I-5 rather than establishing new routes through the foothills of the Cascades.

GAME DIVISION

Monthly Winter Elk Count: Region 5 staff conducted the first monthly winter count of elk wintering on the mudflow portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area on December 9th. Favorable weather allowed for a very clear view of the valley floor and of the elk present on the mudflow (see photo at right). This first count yielded 266 elk consisting of: 72 cows, 30 calves, 20 spikes, 60 raghorns, 24 mature bulls, and 60 unknown. The calf to cow ratio was 42 calves to 100 cows. The animals were not concentrated in particular areas and were well distributed along the Wildlife Area. There was no snow on the valley floor at the time of this initial count. Throughout the winter months elk will be counted on the mudflow at least once a month to determine elk use of the Wildlife Area and forage availability. The Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is closed to all public access from December 1 - April 30 to minimize disturbance to wintering elk.

MOCC Instructor Meeting: The annual meeting of boat safety instructors took place this week. A draft Boat Safety policy was reviewed for eventual submission to the Policy Committee. Classes for 2010 were proposed and now will be circulated amongst instructors to determine if there are enough staff to hold the classes as outlined. It is estimated that it will take 13 to 15 additional sessions to complete the first round of training employees in basic boating safety; this will likely take 2 years. New modules on moving water were discussed and instructor training may take place in 2010 for this additional training for employees operating jet boats on moving water. Recruiting new instructors for the basic class needs to take place as several instructors have failed to participate after initial training and others have had position/funding changes that make it unlikely that they will be allowed the time to help.

Fallen giant
Recent winds took down one of the giants trees on the northernmost boundary of the South Unit

December 7, 2009

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Windstorm Takes Toll: One of the often overlooked features of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area is its assortment of impressively large trees scattered throughout the landscape. In most years, windstorms cause damage to some of these trees but the wounds are usually minor and only add character to their structure. This year however, recent winds took down one of these giants on the northernmost boundary of the South Unit and temporarily inconvenienced an adjoining landowner by falling across a farm road. Wildlife Area Assistant Manger Hauswald assisted the neighbor with temporary removal of part of the black cottonwood tree from the road and estimated the base of the tree was about six feet across. The photo at right uses Hauswald’s truck for scale to illustrate the size of the trunk. We will continue to work with the landowner to remove the rest of the tree from their property.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Hunter success surveys: Manager Van Leuven surveyed hunters regarding their hunting experience in the Soda Springs Unit:

  • Saturday December 5: 9 hunters; 2 deer harvested. Both were healthy 4X4 bucks with symmetrical antlers.
  • Sunday December 6: 4 hunters; 0 deer harvested.
Fallen giant
Someone felled six cottonwood tree for no apparent reason at the Stinson Flat Campground.

"Sport logging": While checking the Stinson Flat Campground for activity, Manager Van Leuven found a place where someone felled 6 cottonwood trees for no apparent reason. The trees ranged in size from 16 inches to 26 inches in diameter and appeared to have been alive when they were cut. The largest tree was sound almost all the way through the trunk. The oaks and pines nearby were not cut.

GAME DIVISION

2009/10 SW Washington Goose Season Area 2A: The initial Canada goose hunting season period closed November 29 in Area 2A. Collectively the State-operated hunter check stations located in Vancouver, Woodland, and Cathlamet, along with the federal check station located at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, reported a total of 329 hunters having harvested a total of 635 geese during the first hunt period. This makes an average of 1.9 birds per hunter among those who brought birds to the check stations. Though the number of geese per hunter is similar to years past, both participation and total harvest are down by approximately 15-20% from the same time-period during 2008-09. Consistent with the harvest in recent years, cackling Canada geese are the primary sub-species within the harvest, with Taverner's Canada geese comprising the second-highest portion of the take.

Goose season will re-open on December 9th and continues on a 3-day per week schedule until January 31, 2010. 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.

Avian Influenza Testing: Biologist Holman and Technician Fox compiled and submitted 40 samples from hunter-killed geese for avian influenza testing. Samples are collected from cackling Canada geese at the Regional goose check stations, stored, and submitted to the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin. Cacklers have been identified for sampling because they spend the summer months in western Alaska where they have the opportunity to intermix with some birds from the Asian continent.

Hunter Access Program: Biologist Anderson responded to a landowner concern that a Feel Free to Hunt sign was mistakenly placed on his land in the Trout Lake area. The landowner shares common access and a gate with Hancock Timber. Hancock Timber currently has a Feel Free to Hunt contract with WDFW for a large portion of their Klickitat ownership. The neighboring landowner had numerous trespass issues on his property this past hunting season. He is concerned that Hancock Timber does not have legal rights to allow the hunting public access through their common gate. Biologist Anderson is currently working with both Hancock Timber and the neighbor to resolve the legal access issue and the placement of signs for the hunting program. All parties understand the issue and have agreed to work on resolution ASAP.

South Rainier Herd Plan: WDFW staff met with tribal cooperators this week to discuss the revision and update of the South Rainier Elk Herd Plan. This first meeting was focused on developing a revised population objective for the herd. The meeting was a great success and, after a review of the Puyallup Tribe's extensive elk work in the area, a second meeting will be held to discuss the objective further. Future meetings will also focus on habitat limitations and acquisitions and other management issues in the herd's area. Region Five staff would like to thank everyone that is involved and for contributing to this important effort.

NGO Meetings - Vancouver Wildlife League: Biologist Holman gave a presentation to approximately 30 members of the Vancouver Wildlife League. At the request of the League, Regional deer management was the topic of the presentation. The League of approximately 80 members has been active for many years in the local area and their areas of interest span a broad array of hunting, fishing, and river access issues. Thanks to the Wildlife League for the invitation to speak to their group and for their ongoing work on the pheasant release program.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson confirmed with Bonneville Power Administration that they are funding another year of western pond turtle work in the Columbia River Gorge. The primary emphasis of this work will be population monitoring, habitat improvement, bullfrog control, and population augmentation. Funding for this project will begin in March 2010.