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
TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov

Click here
for Directions

 

Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
December 2010

December 28, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Disabled Hunter Preference Area: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald worked on creating a Disabled Hunter Preference Area in the Vancouver Lake Unit after several complaints were received about non-disabled hunters being belligerent and not willing to yield an area by a duck blind designated for use by disabled persons. The areas within 150 yards of the blind will be off limits to hunting by non-disabled hunters when there is a disabled hunter hunting within the posted preference area.Signs and maps were posted in the area to inform people of the change.

Estuary Habitat Feasibility Study Site Visit: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Habitat Engineer Uber led a tour for the “Project Development Team” which includes representatives from Bonneville Power and the Corps of Engineers. The stops on the trip focused on existing wetland management projects and potential ways to breech levees to create intertidal habitats. The existing wetland management system has been intended to manage for native type wetland plant communities to produce food for migratory birds. In addition to identifying potential benefits to juvenile salmon, a critical component of the study being initiated will be to predict what plant communities may exist at different elevations and what effect this may have on wintering waterfowl populations.

GAME DIVISION

Post-Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman and Volunteer Cady conducted a post-season deer survey in Game Management Unit 382 (East Klickitat). Survey conditions were favorable and 263 deer were observed and classified during the effort. Additional surveys will be conducted next week and tallied for inclusion in future reports.

Klickitat Cougar Hunt: Hunting conditions in the past week were nearly ideal for the Permit-Only Klickitat cougar hunt with dogs. Biologist Holman and Regional Customer Service Staff checked 5 cougars during the week (four males one female) all harvested within a 3-day period in Klickitat County. The quota of 10 for the permit season has been reached and cougar hunting of all varieties is now closed in Klickitat County.

Lands Access – Klickitat County: Technician White worked on updating the access contract with Hancock Forest Management and mapping large timber ownerships.

Area 2A Goose Season: Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians continued to operate check stations in Vancouver, Woodland and Cathlamet. So far this season, the check station attendants have cumulatively checked 1004 geese harvested by 500 hunters, a success rate of approximately 2 geese per hunter. Ridgefield Refuge has closed for the season after the Dusky quota was reached for that zone. The refuge will remain open for duck hunting. All other zones in Goose Management Area 2A remain open for goose hunting. Hunters are reminded that the check station hours are 10:00am to 6:00pm on hunt days. Goose hunting will be closed on New Year's Day, Saturday Jan. 1.

Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Klickitat River Restoration (update): Work continues on restoration of land owned by the Columbia Land Trust along the Klickitat River. The Columbia Land Trust secured funding through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Yakama Nation for restoration of the Klickitat River between Twin Bridges and Dead Canyon (approximately river miles 17 to 30). The purpose of this restoration effort is to restore the hydrologic function to the river where the presence of an abandoned, paved haul road limits the river’s floodplain dynamics, large woody debris recruitment, ability to contact bedrock and activate off-channel habitat.

To date, over 5 miles of asphalt has been removed, the derelict train trestle, bridge, abutments, and fill has been removed from Dead Canyon Creek, and approximately 1.5 miles of road bed, fill, and rip-rap was removed or re-contoured on the river between the two major breaches north of Beeks Canyon (see before after photos). Planning and design for future phases of restoration is underway. Planting, erosion control, weed control, public outreach, and public use management are on-going. Restoration work was completed in partnership with Yakama Nation Fisheries Program. This project is located adjacent to the Klickitat Wildlife Area and will benefit both fish and wildlife on our lands. We thank Lindsay Cornelius of the Columbia Land Trust (background) and Will Conley of the Yakama Nation for (photos) this update.

Klickitat River Restoration
Klickitat River Restoration - BEFORE Klickitat River Restoration - AFTER
BEFORE AFTER

Bald Eagle Habitat Management. Biologists Koberstein and Miller drafted bald eagle management plans with two landowners this past week. Management plans establish guidelines to protect sensitive eagle nesting habitat when landowners conduct forest management activities. Plans address restrictions in the Protected Zone, within 400 ft of any nest tree, and in the Conditioned Zone, within 800 ft of any nest tree. Landowners must obtain a management plan and/or permit when conducting forest management activities within these zones. The Bald Eagle Management Plan outlines specific protections in eagle nesting habitat, and can be found on the department’s website.

 

December 20, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Toutle River Erosion Control Projects Tested:
WDFW Habitat Engineer Smith made a brief visit to erosion control projects completed over the past two years to assess how the structures performed during the recent high water events. With the very mild winter we had last year this was the first real test of the project’s effectiveness. Most of the river’s interaction with the structures was in the area where work was completed only a two weeks prior. Throughout the entire reach of over one mile only one small and localized eroded area was found which is very insignificant when compared to what we would have expected under pre project conditions. Very minor damage occurred to one of the logjam structures that appeared to have taken the greatest impact from the river.

Structure blocking river Structure blocking river
Examples of two structures and how they influence the movement of the river

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven worked on renewal and management of agricultural leases, completed P-R reports, and provided Olympia staff with background information on projects related to wildlife area use and enforcement priorities.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Managers Jonker and Grabski attended the annual Wildlife Management Coordinating Committee (WMCC) meeting in Olympia along with representatives from Tacoma Power and USFWS. This meeting is required under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) settlement agreement with Tacoma Power and WDFW for the Cowlitz River Hydroelectric Project. Discussion items this year included budget, RMAP accomplishments and future projects, property acquisitions, and contracts.

GAME DIVISION

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Elk Survey. Biologist Koberstein conducted a mid-month elk count on the Mt. St. Helen’s Wildlife Area. A total of 248 elk were counted and 17 radio frequencies were heard on the wildlife area. While snow levels dropped to lower elevations during the week, no snow was seen on the valley floor. No mortalities were detected on this survey. See snow depth chart.

Area 2A Canada Goose Season: Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians continued to operate check stations in Vancouver, Woodland and Cathlamet. Actual hunter and goose harvest numbers will be summarized in future reports. The quota for Dusky Canada Geese has been reached on Ridgefield Refuge initiating a closure to goose hunting on the refuge. Ridgefield Refuge will remain open for duck hunting. All other zones in Goose Management Area 2A remain open for goose hunting. Hunters are reminded that the check station hours are 10:00am to 6:00pm on hunt days. Goose hunting will be closed on Christmas day, Saturday Dec. 25 and New Year's Day, Saturday Jan. 1.

Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

2011 Game Management Unit Boundary Review: Regional wildlife biologists have reviewed the Game Management Unit (GMU) boundaries to confirm that the descriptions are accurate for the statewide hunting pamphlet. Corrections and comments were sent to Olympia for review. WDFW is currently standardizing the language throughout the pamphlet to streamline and simplify GMU descriptions for the hunting public. Note that no significant boundary changes are proposed in Region 5 for the 2011 Big Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet.

Lands Access – Klickitat County: Technician White met with Hancock Forest Mgt. and began work on renewing their soon-to-expire cooperative land access agreement. Technician White also installed feel free to hunt signs on the property of 2 cooperators, and installed signs on pheasant release sites noting the need to use nontoxic shot in 2011.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Gray Squirrels: Biologists Anderson and Azzerad are assisting the Habitat Division with the development of a western gray squirrel management plan associated with a forest practice plan in Klickitat County. The landowner is developing a Forest Stewardship Plan for the long-term management of his property. WDFW has completed western gray squirrel surveys on his property and the next step in the process is to design a harvest plan that also protects important western gray squirrel habitat. This site is one of the most important western gray squirrel sites in the Little Klickitat River drainage and development of a workable plan for both landowner and WDFW is critical. As soon as the landowner completes the Forest Stewardship Plan, WDFW will finalize a wildlife habitat agreement with the landowner. We appreciate biologist Azzerad’s help with this project.

Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Holman continued work on the annual report to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), summarizing work done related to western pond turtle management in the Columbia River Gorge area. This year various tasks were completed, including an abbreviated head-start program which resulted in collection of 41 juvenile turtles, significant habitat improvements at all four pond turtle sites, mark/re-capture population investigations, environmental education, turtle releases, etc. Highlights of the turtle program in the Gorge include documentation of reproduction at an entirely introduced population site and the release of the 1244th head-start turtle.

WINTER CONDITIONS

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions:

  • Past Weather: Late fall and early winter conditions experienced to date have been significant at times with some early snowfall at low elevations and substantial accumulations in the higher areas. Snow accumulations in the mid elevation typical winter range areas have generally been short duration. During the first half of December warmer and wet conditions melted much of the snow at lower and mid elevations.
  • Short-Term Forecast: For the next week snow levels are forecast from 200 to 3500 feet but it appears accumulations below 3000 should be minimal. We’re likely to see some accumulations in the lower elevation winter range areas. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks have Washington near the edge of zones indicating above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
  • Long-Term Forecast: The January outlook is for below normal temperatures in Western Washington and has the state in the center of the zone for above normal precipitation. Lower elevation snow accumulations should be expected. NOAA’s longer term outlook maps continue to suggest colder and wetter than normal conditions through the winter making severe conditions a possibility.
  • Habitat: Despite early snows, typical winter range areas remain available at the present time. This could change somewhat over the next two weeks. Bank protection structures on the Mudflow unit of the wildlife area served their purpose during the recent high water event with almost no erosion of elk forage habitat noted.
  • Snow Depths: Snowpack in the South Cascades is currently near average. See attached spreadsheet for detailed information.
  • Animal Concentrations: Approximately 370 elk were in the traditional survey area Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Survey area during the pre winter count on 12/06. Composition was 31 calves and 31 bulls/100 cows. No animals were observed near Coldwater ridge an area where we usually find elk during mild to moderate winters. Because the first count was near the upper limit of what the mudflow forage can support a follow up count was done on 12/17 when 248 animals were present. The next count will occur near the first of January but is dependent upon weather conditions.
  • Animal Condition: No obvious outward signs of winter stress have been noted in animals observed to date.
  • Mortality: None reported.
  • Public Contacts: None to report regarding winter conditions.
  • The public is reminded that the portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area lying East of a line defined by Hoffstadt Creek, The North Fork Toutle and Deer Creek is closed to public access through April 30 to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands on elk wintering there.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Recent weather in the South Cascades has brought heavy rain and some reduction of snow pack at mid and lower elevations. Temperatures have moderated and the forecast is for continued rain and snow above 3000 ft.
  • Winter Severity: South facing slopes on the Klickitat Wildlife Area have opened over the past week due to increased rain and warming. Snow levels in the South Cascades are normal to slightly above normal for this time of year. Most deer winter range is open in eastern Klickitat County below 2500 ft.
  • Habitat: Habitat is mostly open in important deer wintering areas of eastern Klickitat County. Moderating weather this past week has increased habitat availability in the South Cascades.
  • Animal Concentrations: A small herd of elk (approx 50) was reported this week in the Trout Lake Valley in close proximity to private agricultural land. No other concentrations have been reported in the district.
  • Animal Condition: Deer and elk appear to be in good condition at this time. No reports of stressed animals to date.
  • Mortality: No reports of winter mortality this week in Skamania or Klickitat counties.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.
  • December 13, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Pheasant Release: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven worked with volunteers Messenger, Ihrig, Randall, and Johnson, plus Mr. Cerna with the Department of Corrections to release 143 pheasants on December 9th. Seventy-one birds were placed at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit, 50 were released at the Gun Club property, and 22 were placed at the Finn Ridge Rd. site. Warm, rainy weather melted much of the snow cover and roads were muddy and slick.

GAME DIVISION

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Elk Survey. The first monthly winter elk survey was conducted by Region 5 Biologists to assess herd composition and wintering elk concentration on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Approximately 370 elk were observed. Herd composition surveys found 31 calves per 100 cows and 31 bulls per 100 cows. Signals from 16 radio collared elk on the Wildlife Area were heard, and no mortalities were detected. No elk were observed around Coldwater Ridge, an area where elk are generally found during mild to moderate winter conditions. The valley floor had no snow accumulation.

Area 2A Canada Goose Season. Biologist Stephens submitted 40 samples taken from cackling Canada geese to the National Wildlife Health Center to be tested for Avian Influenza. The samples had been collected from goose check stations in Vancouver and Woodland over the previous month.

Goose season resumed on December 8th after a one week break. Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

2011 Season Setting: Program Manager Jonker and Regional Wildlife Biologists met with Olympia Game Division Staff regarding the establishment of big-game hunting seasons for 2011. Next year's hunting season represents the third year of the currently 3-year season setting cycle, therefore changes are minimal. Most significantly different from the 2010 seasons, will be an increase in elk permit numbers for the western portion of the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd area.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Habitat Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman met with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service Columbia River Gorge (USFS) to discuss habitat management for western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site. The on-site meeting allowed parties to visit the locations of habitat activities from the 2010 work season and make agreements regarding work for 2011. Habitat work at the Bergen Road site includes forest thinning, wetland creation, invasive plant removal, burning of debris piles, removal of outdated fences, restoration of native plant communities, creation of basking habitat, etc.

December 6, 2010

GAME DIVISION

Area 2A Canada Goose Season. In the initial two weeks of the goose hunting season Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians working check stations in Vancouver, Woodland, and Cathlamet have seen 318 hunters and checked 659 geese for an overall success rate of 2.1 geese per hunter. Ridgefield National Wildlife refuge had 22 hunters and checked 41 geese before the goose hunting season closed on November 23rd, when the quota for Dusky Canada Geese was reached on the Refuge. Ridgefield Refuge will remain open for duck hunting. All other zones in Goose Management Area 2A remain open for goose hunting.

There is a break in the goose hunt season in Area 2A during November 29th- December 7th. The season will reopen on Wednesday, December 8th. Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

Goose Collar Survey: Goose collar surveys continued this week in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. Biologists Miller and Koberstein counted 1800 cacklers and no dusky Canada geese. Surveys were conducted in Willow Grove in Cowlitz County and Eden Valley and Puget Island in Wahkiakum County.

Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Nutritional Study: Wildlife Biologists continue to collect elk organ samples in support of the St. Helens Nutritional Study. Recent low-elevation snowfall has made for good success in the late antlerless permit hunts. Overall, however, organ collections are down when compared to 2009. A review of all the samples collected throughout the region will take place this winter to contribute to the database that was initiated last year examining body condition/age and pregnancy rates. Biologists would like to express their thanks to all the hunters who have submitted elk samples for the body condition assessment. In addition several elk radio collars were retrieved this week from hunters. Two of these were GPS collars, which store valuable data regarding elk movements since capture.

Private Lands Access Program: Technician White worked on private landowner parcel information in inclement weather. White will visit with Hancock Forest Management to discuss renewal of their cooperative agreement with WDFW. White also discussed the program with WDFW Biologist Hand, who formerly led the program in Klickitat County. White also visited Trout Lake Dairy Farmers to assess their elk damage situation, in preparation for special hunts that will occur in late December and in January.

Late Muzzleloader Elk Season: Snow levels were ideal for late elk hunting in GMUs 574 and 578 but harvest appeared to be low as most hunters report seeing few elk available for harvest. Below normal numbers of animals were seen in traditional areas during the late muzzleloader hunt. Biologist Anderson collected 6 elk organ samples from the Trout Lake area as part of the St. Helens Elk Nutritional Study. Little damage has been reported from agricultural lands around Trout Lake, but increasing snow conditions could bring additional complaints later in December.

Skull of white-tailed deer which tested positive for CWD. Meat from white-tailed deer which tested positive for CWD packaged for eventual cremation and disposal.
A white-tailed deer which tested postive for Chronic Wasting Disease. The skull was examined and meat transported for cremation, after which the ashes were disposed of at a local landfill.
Ashed from cremated white-tailed deer that had CWD ready for disposal. Ashed of deer packaged for disposal.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Meat Disposal: Biologists Miller and Koberstein contacted a hunter from Wyoming who had harvested a white tailed deer that tested positive for CWD. The hunter was very cooperative and gave us the boned out meat ( ~ 50 lbs) and allowed us to examine the skull. The meat was transported to the Cowlitz Human Society who cremated the meat at no charge. The ashes were recovered the next day, 7 ounces, and then triple bagged. Bag was placed in a hard container for disposal at local landfill. The hunter was very grateful to WDFW for collecting the meat as he would have likely taken it to a dump or buried it locally where it could have been scavenge, resulting in a variety of associated issues.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Holman continued work on the annual report to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), summarizing work done related to western pond turtle management in the Columbia River Gorge area. This year various tasks were completed, including an abbreviated head-start program, significant habitat improvements, mark/re-capture population investigations, environmental education, turtle releases, etc. Highlights of the turtle program in the Gorge include documentation of reproduction at an entirely introduced population site and the release of the 1244th head-start turtle.

WINTER CONDITIONS

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions:

  • Past Weather: Late fall and early winter conditions experienced to date have been significant with some early snowfall at low elevations and substantial accumulations in the higher areas. Snow accumulations in the mid elevation typical winter range areas have generally been short duration.
  • Short-Term Forecast: For the next week, snow levels are forecast from 1500 to 3000 feet but it appears accumulations below 3000 should be minimal. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks are for normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
  • Long-Term Forecast: The December outlook is for normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. NOAA’s longer term outlook maps suggest that colder and wetter than normal conditions through the winter, making severe conditions a possibility.
  • Habitat: Despite early snows, typical winter range areas remain available. Within the vicinity of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area, winter range habitat conditions have remained stable over the past few years or have improved somewhat due to completed habitat projects and timber harvest on DNR and Private timber lands.
  • Snow Depths: Snowpack in the South Cascades is above average but at the current time this amounts to only a few inches at many of the monitoring stations.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations reported. At least 250 animals were seen using the east end of the Wildlife Area while staff were posting the winter public access closure. The formal pre-winter count will occur in the near future.
  • Animal Condition: No obvious outward signs of winter stress have been noted in animals observed to date.
  • Mortality: None reported.
  • Public Contacts: None to report. The public is reminded that the portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area lying East of a line defined by Hoffstadt Creek, The North Fork Toutle, and Deer Creek is closed to public access through April 3, 20110 to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands on elk wintering there.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Recent weather in the South Cascades has brought significant snow. Temperatures have been normal and snow pack continues to be higher than normal for this time of year. Snow levels in Skamania and Klickitat counties have been down to 1000 ft.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area has moderate levels of snow and most south facing slopes are covered with 3-4 inches of snow but forage is generally available. It is still too early to determine the severity of the winter.
  • Habitat: Habitat is mostly covered with some snow but forage is generally available.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: No information available on overall animal conditions, but it is suspected that being early in the season there is still little stress.
  • Mortality: Wildlife officers report one winter deer mortality in Skamania County.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.