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

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
May 2009

May 26

Fertilizing winter forage areas.
Wildlife Area Manager Calkins fertilized approximately 45 acres of elk winter range forage areas on the mudflow using a small tractor and broadcast spreader.


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Forage Maintenance: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins fertilized approximately 45 acres of elk winter range forage areas on the mudflow. The work was done using a small tractor and broadcast spreader. This is part of an integrated program to enhance forage production for elk on several selected sites on the wildlife area by applying lime, fertilizer, and using other techniques. Sampling we conducted last year suggested a 40% increase in production in one treated area when compared to an untreated site. This year we will be able to expand the acreage treated due to support we are receiving from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that will allow us to purchase additional materials.

Scotch Broom Control: WDFW’s Western Washington Weed Crew spent several days on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area spraying scotch broom. The crew used ATV mounted and backpack sprayers to get to and treat individual plants on the rough terrain. Although hampered by rain on one of the days, the crew worked long hours and covered approximately 350 acres in the eastern portion of the Wildlife Area. This crew has been instrumental in helping us reduce the scotch broom infestation here and their help is greatly appreciated.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Grazing Monitoring: Manager VanLeuven monitored grazing on the Wildlife Area by coordinating with the permittee regarding the number of animals to place on the range as well as filling out the range evaluation form, checking water troughs, and placing a sign on a gate advising people to keep it closed. So far there have been no problems for the KWA and the effort is proceeding well.

Vaux’s Swifts: Manager VanLeuven surveyed for Vaux’s Swifts at the old Icehouse on the Mineral Springs Unit. 354 swifts were observed going into the chimney to roost overnight. Most of the activity occurred between 8:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Bald eagle nest.
WDFW and Longview Timber discuss buffer zones and leave trees for bald eagle and falcon habitat and nesting.
Potential wetland habitat.
WDFW biologist Hancock Timber to discuss a cooperative wetland enhancement project on their lands in Klickitat County.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Trapping of western pond turtles continues at the Bergen Road site. Through the first 7 days of effort, a total of 153 turtle captures have been recorded and 79 individual turtles have been identified. The current trapping effort is being conducted for the purpose of population estimation so that a robust method of estimating the population may be further developed in the future.

While the great majority of the turtles present at this site are those reintroduced through the “Head-Start” program, a particular highlight of the effort to date is the location of a wild juvenile western pond turtle. Measuring 91 mm and weighing 100 grams, the young turtle is roughly four-years-old and exceeds the size that bull frogs are able to ingest. Presence of the young turtle is a very positive indication that the Bergen Road western pond turtle population is robust and that habitat acquisitions and enhancements have helped perpetuate the species at this location.

Bald Eagle and Falcon Management: Biologists Miller and Prince met with a representative of Longview Timber to discuss a bald eagle issue along the Toutle River and a falcon issue along the Columbia River. Buffer zones and leave trees for the eagle were developed on site and a BEMP will be developed with new maps the landowner will provide. Falcon issue was also discussed along the Columbia River near Nassa Point. Input from Survey Manager Cummins was helpful in developing a starting point for discussions on buffer zones and access management for the Peregrine territory. The meeting with Longview Timber was productive and positive as the landowner is sensitive to wildlife issues and willing to work with WDFW to provide habitat and still accomplish their goals.

Wetlend Management: Biologist Anderson met with Hancock Timber to discuss a cooperative wetland enhancement project on their lands in Klickitat County. Hancock owns approximately 80 acres of habitat that is currently being used by sandhill cranes. The proposed project would evaluate the potential for developing crane nesting habitat by increasing the amount of water available throughout the spring and early summer months. In addition, trees would be removed from wet meadows to open the area for sandhill crane use of the site. The Columbia Land Trust is participating in discussions regarding this project and will assist with grant development for funding.

May 18, 2000


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Forage Enhancement Projects: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Volunteers Braaten and Vance fertilized an estimated 95 acres of elk forge enhancement sites that had been planted last year and this spring. It took the two approximately three days to cover the four sites. In addition to the fertilizer application, some areas were harrowed as a measure to control moss and some areas were also over seeded to improve the plant stands. Most of this work was funded through two Volunteer Cooperative Grants that Braaten had received from WDFW. Work will begin this spring on a fifth site that will be reseeded this fall with funding from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Fencing: Manager VanLeuven has completed the fencing project on the Sondino Unit of the Klickitat Wildlife Area.

Western pond turtle hoop trap
Western pond turtle floating hoop trap.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman initiated trapping for western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site. Thirty-four traps have been set in four water bodies at the site. Traps will be checked daily through May 22 in an effort to monitor this sub-population of western pond turtles. New for this year is the deployment of hoop-style traps that are suspended over the water (i.e., floating nets). These traps are baited with fish and allow access to portions of water bodies that don’t have convenient vegetation to tie to and, because the traps float, animals can’t be accidentally drowned while captive. See the photo at right of a floating hoop trap.

Western Pond Turtle trapping at the Klickitat ponds was completed this last week. A grand total of 30 adult females were equipped with transmitters for this year’s "head start" program. This represents the highest number of females that will be monitored for nesting since the program began in 1991.

Vaux’s Swifts: Klickitat resident Ramsey surveyed for Vaux's swifts at the Old Icehouse, on the Mineral Springs Unit, on Saturday evening. He reported that an estimated 300 swifts went into the chimney to roost between about 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. This Saturday survey was part of a statewide Vaux's swift survey effort. The survey coordinator indicated that according to early reports, this was the second highest count in the state for a single known site.


St. Helens Wildlife Area Winter Mortality Count: After reviewing the data collected during this year's winter mortality survey on the Mt. St. Helen's Wildlife Area, a final count of thirty-two winter deaths was calculated. This number is significantly lower than last year’s count of 156. The highest count of elk on the mudflow this year was 334.

Safety Training: Create an agency environment that nurtures professionalism, accountability, enthusiasm, and dedication in order to attract, develop, and retain a workforce that can successfully carry out the mandate of the agency

Boat Safety: Biologist Miller, in his role as Wildlife Program Master MOCC (Motorboat Operation and Certification Course) instructor, spent time this week working on preparations for the upcoming MOCC class in Vancouver. This training has a large logistical component that needs to be coordinated in advance of the actual class. Some time will need to be spent on Lacamas Lake in the next week or two to prepare for the water exercises that we do as a part of the training. Boats were also arranged for this project and some repair was done to the 20' Alumaweld in preparation for the class.

ATV Training: Region 5 Wildlife Program staff safely completed ATV training this week - this training fulfills a mandatory training requirement. The course is a thorough hands-on class that was taught by Law Enforcement Officer Valentine.

May 11, 2009


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Fencing and Grazing Management: Manager VanLeuven worked with the Department of Natural Resources/Larch Corrections crew on a fencing project near Lyle to implement replacements, repairs, and preparations for new fence construction. While working on another fence repair project, the WCC crew notified manager VanLeuven about stray cattle on the Soda Springs Unit. 22 cows with calves were found on WDFW property. Manager VanLeuven contacted and worked with the owner to remove the cattle as well as check the fence line and discuss needed repairs. The owner of the cattle was responsive and committed to repair the fence to ensure his cattle would stay on his property.

Grazing management monitoring photo point in the Klictitat Wildlife Area.
Grazing management monitoring photo point in the Klictitat Wildlife Area.

Manager VanLeuven visited all six grazing monitoring photo points and took photos for this year's monitoring effort. Manager VanLeuven assessed the range readiness, made fence repairs, ensured a stock watering trough operates correctly, and also posted signs advising people to close gates after they drive through.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman made preparations for conducting western pond turtle captures at the Bergen Road site. Tasks associated with preparation for trapping include hauling of traps, boats, and associated equipment to each of the 5 primary water bodies at the site; preparing data recording forms and equipment; and construction of new traps. Trapping will be conducted in May and/or June depending on weather.

In spite of the weather this week, the turtle crew at Sondino Ranch did rather well. They captured 40 turtles for a grand total of 200 this season. 6 additional transmitters were placed on females for a total of 26 for the year. Two wild hatchling turtles were captured and now are at the Oregon Zoo. That makes 3 from Pond B and one from the path to the northeast of Pond A on its way from the nest to the water.


St. Helens Wildlife Area Winter Mortality Count: The 2009 winter elk mortality count on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area was completed this week with the help of WDFW staff and about 20 RMEF volunteers. The preliminary data indicate approximately 35 elk died on the mudflow this winter. The locations of these mortalities will be checked next week with past locations to verify each carcass/bone pile was from this year's winter; and a more accurate number will be reported when this task is completed. Many thanks to the volunteers for their help with this survey.

Lower Columbia River Dark Goose Project: As a part of the effort to estimate the size of the dark goose population, Biologists Miller and Prince and volunteers Jarvis and Howell re-examined the dark goose nests documented on the April 20 survey. The goal was to determine how many of the nests were hatched, abandoned, or destroyed, for input into a population estimate. We found all the documented nests and found that about 30% were still incubating and the rest were hatched. Some abandoned eggs were found associated with most of the hatched nests. The egg float data will be added to the information we gathered during the nest search to establish the time line to band the birds this summer.

May 4, 2009


Western Pond Turtle Management: Western pond turtle trappingis going well at Sondino Ponds in Klickitat County. The field team headed by Kate Slavens has caught a grand total of 160 turtles. Transmitters have been placed on a total of 20 females, ensuring another successful season for the "head start program". One wild hatchling was caught this last week and it was taken to the Oregon Zoo and placed with the 2008 "head start" group. All 2008 turtles from the Oregon Zoo will be released in the Columbia River Gorge this summer.

Golden Eagle Mortality: Biologist Anderson reports a golden eagle mortality from the Goodnoe Wind Farm in eastern Klickitat County. The bird appears to be a young female and it is uncertain if it is part of a breeding pair or a migratory bird. The bird had a broken wing and leg and was located immediately below a wind turbine.

Operation Dark Goose
Operation Dark Goose: Biologists and volunteers set traps to catch dark geese for monitoring this week.


Operation Dark Goose: Biologists Miller and Prince and volunteersHowell and Jarvis attempted to catch dark geese this week. The goal was to radio collar some of the birds so that they could be found later in the summer and to band their broods as well as other adults. We tried using a CODA net gun and a hoop trap. The hoop trap showed the most promise for the future and recently we caught 1 bird in this trap and radio collared the goose. The birds consistently out flew the net gun. We are exploring acquisition of several hoop traps for next year. These dark geese cause confusion at check stations, as they resemble the Dusky Canada goose that has a restricted harvest. WDFW and ODFW cooperate on banding these birds to reduce check station problems.

8th Western States and Provinces Deer and Elk Workshop: Biologists Prince and Holman were among WDFW Staff in attendance at the 8th Western States and Provinces Deer and Elk Workshop, held this year in Spokane. The conference features speakers from various State and Provincial wildlife agencies, University researchers, tribal deer and elk specialists, conservation organizations, as well as students. Presentations on many research topics including, habitat based population modeling, elk responses to human activities including roads and hunting, predation, sex-age-kill population modeling, habitat improvement projects, sight-resight population modeling, sources of mortality in black-tailed and mule deer as well as elk, effectiveness of wildlife fencing and crossing structures on highways, hunter opinions, mule and black-tailed deer genetics and a the Hairloss Syndrome. Thanks to all those who presented at the workshop.