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

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
February 2010

February 22, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Tree Plantings: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Fox have completed tree plantings for the year on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. Over 2,500 rooted trees, 1,700 rooted shrubs, and 2,500 cuttings have been planted in five locations over the past several weeks. The plantings are intended to promote and create oak forest communities, riparian habitat, and riverbank stabilization along Lake River. Eleven different species were planted this year, with Oregon White Oak and Oregon Ash as the dominant species in the tree plantings and Red Osier Dogwood and willow cuttings being planted for the riverbank stabilization work.

GAME DIVISION

Post-Season Elk surveys: Biologist Holman and Prince along with Deer and Elk Specialist McCorquodale and Wildlife Area Manager Calkins conducted post season elk surveys in Game Management Units 560 (Lewis River), 572 (Siouxon), and 554 (Yale). Survey conditions were generally poor during the effort as foggy, rainy weather dominated the early part of the week and warm, windy, sunny weather concluded the survey. A total of 212 were observed and classified during the effort. Sex and age ratios will be calculated in future weeks.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Dog Mountain DOT Project Review: Biologist Anderson met with Biologist Jones from WDOT to discuss highway safety construction at Dog Mt. in the Columbia River Gorge. At issue is oak habitat removal and rock blasting in order to prevent rock fall along highway 14 in Skamania County. Rock blasting will take place adjacent to a peregrine falcon breeding site and an evaluation was conducted to determine potential disturbance impacts to this breeding pair. After the site visit, WDOT agreed to minimize removal of oak habitat and both agencies agreed that blasting would have minimal impacts to peregrine falcons using the area.

Oregon Spotted Frog Survey: Biologist Anderson and Biologist Scott from the USFS surveyed Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve for early season Oregon Spotted Frog (OSP) egg masses. Annual OSP surveys take place each year as an index of population health for this endangered species in Klickitat County. Due to the early mild winter conditions, surveys have started one month earlier than normal. This week’s survey did not document egg laying as of yet, although habitat conditions were ideal.

WINTER CONDITIONS

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions

  • Past Weather: Fall and early winter conditions were highly variable. One of the coldest Decembers on record was the most notable highlight. However, November was relatively warm and the cold temperatures in December were combined with relatively dry conditions so there were not major snow accumulations. Mid to low elevation snow occurred on several occasions in November and December but was not very deep or persistent on the ground for extended periods. Weather during January was very mild and almost spring like with relatively warm temperatures and minor rainfall. These mild conditions continued through the first half of February. The past week’s temperatures have been above average and we have seen plenty of sun.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Continued mild conditions for the next week with some rainfall. Temperatures should range from the low 30’s to low 50’s. Snow levels generally should be at or above 3,500 feet. The 6-10 day outlook suggests above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. The 8-14 day outlook suggests above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. In other years this may be cause for concern of flooding but, with the below normal snowpack, the chances of erosion caused by flooding on the Wildlife Area are probably minor unless we get a significant rain event.
  • Long-Term Forecast: NOAA’s long range outlook map products suggest warmer and drier than normal conditions for the month of March with the same conditions continuing through the remainder of the winter.
  • Habitat: Snowpack is substantially below normal. Typical winter range areas remain available. Forage remains available on the Wildlife Area and obvious growth of grasses has been noted on the site.
  • Snow Depths: In general, snow depths are well below normal in the area.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations of animals have been noted due to winter conditions. 160 elk were present during the most recent survey on February 1st. A total of 266 elk were present in the mudflow survey area during the winter count on December 9th and 175 during the survey on January 5th.
  • Animal Condition: No animals showing obvious outward signs of severe physical decline due to winter conditions have been observed or reported on the Wildlife Area or in the vicinity.
  • Mortality: District 10 biologists recovered a neck collar from one of the Mt. St. Helens Elk Study animals that had died near the Wildlife Area. Due to the carcass being heavily scavenged, a cause of death could not be determined.
  • Public Contacts: None this week. 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: Weather in the South Cascades is warmer than normal with no new snow. Temperatures are above normal and snow pack continues to be below normal.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area is snow-free and forage habitat is available. There is little concern for the current severity of the winter conditions on big game populations in Skamania County and the western portion of Klickitat County. The eastern portions of Klickitat County have had lower snow fall accumulation this winter and deer are in good condition.
  • Habitat: Habitat is open above 3000 ft and forage habitat has increased for big game this past week.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

February 16, 2010

Dam from West Pullen
Dam from West Pullen
Click photo for enlargement.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Sediment Retention Area Lands: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins spent several hours with Mark Smith, owner of Ecopark Resort, and Tom Paulu of the Longview Daily News travelling to several sites along the North side of the sediment retention area that WDFW recently acquired from the Department of Transportation. Points of interest included old pastures and orchards that Mr. Smith and others have maintained on their own for wildlife benefits, two lakes that have formed behind the sediments at East and West Pullen Creeks, and a network of trails through the area. The photo right illustrates a wetland plant community that has taken hold on the sediments deposited as a result of the construction of the sediment retention structure seen in the background.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Trail Proposals: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with staff and elected officials from the Cities of Vancouver and Ridgefield and the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to discuss a proposed trail that has been in the Clark County Trails Master Plan for many years. The proposed trail route roughly follows an undeveloped highway right of way along Lake River from Vancouver Lake to Ridgefield. The city officials are very interested in improvements to the regional trail system that would link the two areas. At first glance the route may seem like a perfect place for a trail. However, both WDFW and USFWS expressed serious concerns as the proposed route goes through some of the most sensitive areas for wintering waterfowl on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area and the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge as well as through Oregon white oak and riparian habitat in both areas. We suggested that a trail close to the Columbia River along Lower River Road would be less of an impact to the Wildlife Area however; this would not address the impacts on the Refuge. Calkins also attended a second larger meeting concerning regional trail programs in the Portland/Vancouver area and may attend future meetings in hope of making certain that our concerns are included in future trail planning, particularly with regard to the Wildlife Area as a number of other proposed trails either pass through or are very close to our lands.

GAME DIVISION

Elk monitoring collar
Scavenged elk mortality
Elk monitoring collar and scavenged elk mortality
Click photos for enlargement.

Collared Elk: Biologist Prince and University of Alberta Graduate Student Geary located and retrieved one of the Mt. St. Helens elk collars that was transmitting a mortality signal. The elk was almost completely scavenged and no cause of death could be determined. Elk have been collared in this herd for a population estimation study currently entering its second year in the northern half of the Mt. St. Helens elk herd area. Live elk were also observed in the area and they appeared to be in good condition.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Forest Carnivores: Biologist Anderson is currently developing a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the US Forest Service - GP National Forest - for monitoring forest carnivores. The goal of the project is to focus attention on higher elevation species including wolverine and the Cascade Mountain Fox. Little is known about both species and recent camera detections of both indicate that the two species occur around Mt Adams and the Goat Rocks wilderness areas. The agreement between the USFS and WDFW will put in place a framework for continued monitoring with remote camera stations over the next two year period.

Diversity Workshop: Region 5 wildlife program staff Jonker, Holman, and Prince attended the annual Diversity Division Workshop this week. The main purpose of the workshop is for staff to develop their work plans for the coming year. A new approach to setting priorities in the Region was implemented and tested at this workshop while other WDFW staff also gave presentations about current work going on in the Diversity Division. These included an update on the Lookout Wolf Pack, a North Cascades Wolverine study, and Western gray squirrel research being conducted on Ft. Lewis.

WINTER CONDITIONS

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions

  • Past Weather: Fall and early winter conditions were highly variable. One of the coldest Decembers on record was the most notable highlight. However, November was relatively warm and the cold temperatures in December were combined with relatively dry conditions so there were not major snow accumulations. Mid to low elevation snow occurred on several occasions in November and December but was not very deep or persistent on the ground for extended periods. Weather during January was very mild and almost spring like with relatively warm temperatures and minor rainfall. These mild conditions continued through the first half of February.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Continued mild conditions for the next week with some rainfall. Temperatures should range from the high 30’s to upper 40’s. Snow levels generally should be at or above 3,500 feet. The 6-10 day outlook suggests above normal temperatures and normal precipitation. The 8-14 day outlook suggests normal temperatures and normal precipitation.
  • Long-Term Forecast: NOAA’s long range outlook map products suggest warmer and drier than normal conditions for the month of February with the same conditions continuing through the remainder of the winter.
  • Habitat: Snowpack is substantially below normal. Typical winter range areas remain available. Forage remains available on the Wildlife Area and obvious growth of grasses was noted on the site during some work this week.
  • Snow Depths: In general, snow depths are well below normal in the area.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations of animals have been noted due to winter conditions. 160 elk were present during the most recent survey on February 1st. A total of 266 elk were present in the mudflow survey area during the winter count on December 9th and 175 during the survey on January 5th.
  • Animal Condition: No animals showing obvious outward signs of severe physical decline due to winter conditions have been observed or reported on the Wildlife Area or in the vicinity.
  • Mortality: None reported to date due to winter conditions.
  • Public Contacts: Visited areas of the new portion of the Wildlife Area with Mark Smith and Tom Paulu of the Longview Daily News. Mr. Paulu is working on a story about our acquisition of the 3800 acre site, but winter conditions, elk, and feeding were side topics that were discussed. Mr. Smith is providing supplemental feed to elk on his property again this winter. 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: Weather in the South Cascades is warmer than normal with no new snow. Temperatures are above normal and snow pack continues to be below normal.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area is snow-free and forage habitat is available. There is little concern for the current severity of the winter conditions on big game populations in Skamania County and the western portion of Klickitat County. The eastern portions of Klickitat County have had lower snow fall accumulation this winter and deer are in good condition.
  • Habitat: Habitat is open above 2500 ft and forage habitat has increased for big game this past week.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

February 8, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Sediment Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and other staff from the Habitat and Fish programs met with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cowlitz County, and other resource agencies to review plans for a pilot project the Corps is proposing on the sediment plain in the newly acquired western portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Previous designs the Corps had presented raised a number of resource issues but this current proposal is much different and may possibly lead to some improvements for both aquatic and terrestrial species including ESA listed salmonids. All in attendance agreed that the proposal could move forward and the hope is to get the project under way this summer. The Corps and County’s primary interest in the project is to prevent some of the sediment from moving down the river and reaching the lower Cowlitz where they create an increased risk of flooding in residential and industrial areas. WDFW and other agencies have been working with them over a period of several years to address some of the resource issues created by past projects. The pilot project shows promise in helping to address both resource and flooding concerns.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Wintering Waterfowl: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald posted signs around the perimeter of the North and South Units informing the public that the Units are closed to dog training through April 15 and to also encourage the general public to not enter these areas in order to provide a low disturbance environment for flocks of wintering birds including Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, and a wide range of duck species. Since the close of waterfowl season, birds have moved into the fields and wetlands in large numbers and can be seen from almost any roadside location. As long as the public remains around the perimeter the birds should stay on the Wildlife Area for all to enjoy and off of private farmlands where they may damage pastures or planted crops.

Heron Rookery Habitat Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins walked the “old rookery” tree stand on the South Unit near Frenchman’s Bar County Park to assess survival of cottonwood trees planted over the past several years and natural tree recruitment. One of our management plan objectives has been to rehabilitate this site that once had over 300 heron nests. Over time, many of the large mature trees died and fell and eventually Herons moved to other sites both on and off the Wildlife Area. Natural recruitment of trees appears to be good in some parts of the site but lacking in others, which was the rationale behind adding trees to the site by planting. Planted trees have done reasonably well in some parts of the stand but poorly in others. In order to assure that our objective is met, enhanced maintenance of planted trees will be necessary in some parts of the site along with further planting. Herons did return to this site two years ago to nest and Calkins counted twelve nests remaining from last year’s nesting season.

Stabilization project
Klickitat Post-Season Buck:Doe Ratios 2003-2009
Click chart for enlargement.

GAME DIVISION

Region 5 Post-Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman compiled the results of post-season deer surveys conducted in GMU 388 (Grayback), 578 (West Klickitat), and 382 (East Klickitat). During the effort a total of 873 deer were classified with a combination of aerial and ground surveys employed. It is apparent from these survey results that the 2006 change to 3-point management has had a positive effect on buck escapement in the Grayback GMU. Note that all three Klickitat GMUs are now managed under the 3-point antler restriction strategy. Please see the attached figure (Post SeasonDeerSurveys2003-2009.pdf) summarizing the post-season deer survey results from 2003 through 2009 in these three important Region 5 GMUs.

Dusky Canada Goose Management: Biologist Holman conducted a survey of dusky Canada geese in the Woodland Bottoms area. Flocks of geese including primarily Taverner’s were located but no duskies were observed. Comprehensive surveys throughout the wintering range of the duskies (SW Washington and NW Oregon) are conducted by a combination of State and Federal biologists. Information collected during these surveys is used to generate distribution data for the species, help monitor their status, and set appropriate hunting seasons.

Monthly elk survey: Biologists Miler and Prince, with the assistance of University of Alberta student Geary, completed the monthly survey of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. 160 elk were observed on the survey on February 1st. No elk mortalities were observed in the survey area. One radio collared elk from the St Helens elk study was detected emitting a mortality signal downstream of the Wildlife Area. No snow cover was observed on the Wildlife Area and snow was not observed on the adjoining hillsides, confirming our assessment that this winter has been mild so far. Some green up may be taking place on the valley floor in the warmest microclimates.

Sea Bird surveys: Biologist Miller and Price assisted the PSAMP crew with surveys for sea birds in Puget Sound. We completed 28 surveys on Friday and Miller will be helping most of next week

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman met with representatives from the Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group, WDFW Fisheries Management Staff, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Staff regarding management of pond turtle habitat at Pierce National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is occupied by one of the 4 populations of the State Endangered western pond turtle, which were introduced to the site in 2000. Three-hundred and eleven western pond turtles have subsequently been released to the Refuge’s wetlands and the animals are just reaching the age of sexual maturity. Pierce Refuge is also spawning habitat for the Federally Threatened Lower Columbia River Chum salmon. Opportunities for a collaborative habitat enhancement project as well as potential conflicts were discussed.

Proposed BPA Powerlines: Biologist Holman along with Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and WDFW Staff from both Habitat and Fisheries Program met with representatives from Bonneville Power Administration regarding their proposal to construct new power lines in southwest Washington. BPA is initiating an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate possible routes for the project. WDFW favors the use of existing power line routes and easements rather than the construction of hundreds of miles of new lines. A suite of impacts from construction of extensive new lines would result; including forest fragmentation, introduction of people, ATVs, weeds and pets to remote areas, disruption of aerial flight paths, soil erosion, sedimentation, etc.

WINTER CONDITIONS

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions:

  • Past Weather: Fall and early winter conditions were highly variable. One of the coldest Decembers on record was the most notable highlight. However, November was relatively warm and the cold temperatures in December were combined with relatively dry conditions so there were not major snow accumulations. Mid to low elevation snow occurred on several occasions in November and December but was not very deep or persistent on the ground for extended periods. Weather during January was very mild and almost spring like with relatively warm temperatures and minor rainfall. These mild conditions continued through the first week of February.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Continued mild conditions for the next week with some rainfall. Temperatures should range from the mid 30’s to upper 40’s. Snow levels generally should be at or above 3,000 feet. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both suggest above normal and below normal temperatures.
  • Long-Term Forecast: NOAA’s long range outlook map products suggest warmer and drier than normal conditions for the month of February with the same conditions continuing through the remainder of the winter.
  • Habitat: Snowpack is substantially below normal. Typical winter range areas remain available. Forage remains available on the Wildlife Area and the warmer temperatures are probably allowing some growth on forage plants.
  • Snow Depths: See attached for detail. In general, snow depths are well below normal in the area.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations of animals have been noted due to winter conditions. A total of 266 elk were present in the mudflow survey area during the winter count on December 9th, 175 during the survey on January 5th, and 160 were observed during the survey on February 1st.
  • Animal Condition: No animals showing obvious outward signs of severe physical decline due to winter conditions have been observed or reported on the Wildlife Area or in the vicinity.
  • Mortality: None reported to date due to winter conditions.
  • Public Contacts: A news story appeared last week on KGW channel 8 (Portland) describing habitat issues elk and salmon face due to sediment projects from the 1980’s. 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: Weather in the South Cascades is warmer than normal with no new snow. Temperatures are above normal and snow pack continues to be below normal.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area is snow-free and forage habitat is available. There is little concern for the current severity of the winter conditions on big game populations in Skamania County and the western portion of Klickitat County. The eastern portions of Klickitat County have had lower snow fall accumulation this winter and deer are in good condition.
  • Habitat: Habitat is open above 2500 ft and forage habitat has increased for big game this past week.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

February 3, 2010

Stabilization project
Site of the next phase of stabilization work on the N. Fork Toutle River to provide assurance against further loss of elk habitat to erosion.
Bald eagle
Bald eagle on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Stabilization Projects Update: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with WDFW engineers on site to begin planning for the next phase of stabilization work along the North Fork Toutle River where it flows along the remaining portion of the mudflow on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Projects that were completed or upgraded last year were found to be holding up well and, with the mild conditions this fall and winter, the river has yet to touch some of the structures. The group decided that the next phase of work should focus in the area between the two existing projects with the hope that the funding in-hand will be sufficient to fill the gap and provide some assurance against further large scale losses of elk habitat to erosion. The photo at right provides a view of the project completed by WDFW engineering crews last fall.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Right of Entry: Manager Van Leuven met with Klickitat PUD consulting engineers regarding planned work on the Fisher Hill Unit of the KWA and provisions included in the Right-of-Entry to protect existing land values while allowing the work to go forward. There were many bald eagles in the area, including the one photographed sitting on top of one of the power poles in the image at right..

GAME DIVISION

Dusky Canada Goose Management: Biologist Holman conducted a survey of dusky Canada geese in the Woodland Bottoms area. Flocks of gees including primarily cacklers and Taverner’s were located but no duskies were observed. Comprehensive surveys throughout the wintering range of the duskies (SW Washington and NW Oregon) are conducted by a combination of State and Federal biologists. Information collected during these surveys is used to generate a population model for the species and monitor their status.

Region 5 Deer Management: Biologist Holman summarized deer productivity survey data submitted by various parties from the August 15 through September 30 survey period. This year’s effort produced a data set of 663 classified deer from Region 5. The pooled fawn to doe ratio for the entire Region was 0.58 for 2009, representing a significant increase over the 2008 ratio of just 0.36 and exceeds the long-term average of 0.52. See the attached figure for an illustration of the pooled fawn to doe ratio and sample size in Region 5 from 1995-2009. Note that productivity varies substantially throughout the Region (the Klickitat GMUs are more productive for example). Subsets of the data are used for the purpose of population modeling and take these differences into account.

Thanks to all those who participated in the survey effort and provided their deer observations for inclusion. The deer represented in these data include animals observed during formalized survey efforts by WDFW Wildlife Program Staff, observations by volunteers while conducting various activities, and incidental observations by local residents. Thirty individuals representing a cross section of WDFW Staff, landowners, cooperating agencies and sportsman’s groups contributed. Their participation is detailed as follows: WDFW Wildlife Program Staff (Holman, VanLeuven, Anderson, Prince, Pyzik, Calkins, Hauswald, Jonker, and Miller); WDFW Fisheries Staff (Keller, Gray, and Hymer); Five foresters from private timber companies (S.D.S., O.R.M. and Sierra Pacific); Six members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club; Three U.S. Forest Service Staff; Two public utility Staff; One Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteer, and one DNR Biologist. Thanks again for the help.

Game Division Winter Workshop: Regional Wildlife Program Manager Jonker along with Biologists Prince and Holman attended the Game Management Division Winter Workshop in Olympia. Biologists and Managers from around the State attended the three-day meeting and the workshop focused on developing work plans for the coming year, presenting findings and updates on current department research projects, and planning for upcoming projects. Highlights included presentations by Woody Myers on the Mule Deer Project, Scott McCorquodale on the Blue Mountains Elk Mortality Study, and Rich Beausoleil on Statewide cougar management projects. The major projects in Region 5 include: black-tailed deer research project, Mt. St. Helens elk sightability model development project, and lower Columbia River goose monitoring and banding project. Work planning was also a prominent feature of the workshop and each Region spent individual time with each Section Manager to facilitate this planning. Details of the upcoming Black-tailed deer study, presented by Cliff Rice completed the meeting.

DISEASE MONITORING

Avian Influenza Sampling: Biologist Holman and Technician Fox submitted 80 samples taken from cackling Canada geese for Avian Influenza testing. The samples are sent to the U.S.G.S wildlife disease center in Wisconsin where samples are collected and tested from throughout the U.S. Cackling Canada geese are selected for this disease sampling because of their interaction with birds from Asia while on their breeding grounds in western Alaska. This completes the Regional requirement for Avian Influenza sampling for the year (200 samples).

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman continued with an effort to enter western pond turtle capture and Head-starting data into the database. Several hundred capture events, twenty nesting events, and the release of several dozen turtles are included in the year’s (2009) turtle work. The extensive database records all of these events in exceeding detail. The retirement of Biologist Slavens has placed the data-entry related to this work on remaining Wildlife Program Staff.

WINTER CONDITIONS

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions – Week of January 18th.

Past Weather: Fall and early winter conditions were highly variable. One of the coldest Decembers on record was the most notable highlight. However, November was relatively warm and the cold temperatures in December were combined with relatively dry conditions so there were no major snow accumulations. Mid to low elevation snow occurred on several occasions in November and December but was not very deep or persistent on the ground for extended periods. Weather during the first half of January was warmer than normal with minor rainfall amounts melting off much of the mid elevation snow that was present. Intermittent rainfall with higher than normal temperatures have persisted over the last week.

  • Short-Term Forecast: Continued mild conditions for the next week. Temperatures should range from the mid 30’s to mid 40’s. Snow levels should range from 2,500 to 4,000 feet. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both suggest above normal temperatures. The 6-10 day rainfall outlook indicates the potential for above normal precipitation but the 8-14 day shows the south Cascades on the edge of the normal precipitation zone.
  • Long-Term Forecast: NOAA’s long range outlook map products suggest warmer and drier than normal conditions for the month of February with the same conditions continuing through the remainder of the winter.
  • Habitat: Snowpack is substantially below normal. Typical winter range areas remain available. Forage remains available on the Wildlife Area and the warmer temperatures are probably allowing some growth on forage plants.
  • Snow Depths: See attached for detail. In general, snow depths are well below normal in the area.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations of animals have been noted due to winter conditions. A total of 266 elk were present in the mudflow survey area during the winter count on December 9 and 175 during the survey on January 5th.
  • Animal Condition: No animals showing outward signs of severe physical decline due to winter conditions have been observed or reported on the Wildlife Area or in the vicinity.
  • Mortality: None reported to date due to winter conditions.
  • Public Contacts: None this week. 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.

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions – Week of January 25th.

  • Past Weather: Fall and early winter conditions were highly variable. One of the coldest Decembers on record was the most notable highlight. However, November was relatively warm and the cold temperatures in December were combined with relatively dry conditions so there were not major snow accumulations. Mid to low elevation snow occurred on several occasions in November and December but was not very deep or persistent on the ground for extended periods. Weather during January was very mild and almost spring like with relatively warm temperatures and minor rainfall.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Continued mild conditions for the next week with some rainfall. Temperatures should range from the mid 30’s to mid 40’s. Snow levels generally should be at or above 4,000 feet. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both suggest temperatures and precipitation near the normal range.
  • Long-Term Forecast: NOAA’s long range outlook map products suggest warmer and drier than normal conditions for the month of February with the same conditions continuing through the remainder of the winter.
  • Habitat: Snowpack is substantially below normal. Typical winter range areas remain available. Forage remains available on the Wildlife Area and the warmer temperatures are probably allowing some growth on forage plants.
  • Snow Depths: See attached for detail. In general, snow depths are well below normal in the area.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations of animals have been noted due to winter conditions. A total of 266 elk were present in the mudflow survey area during the winter count on December 9 and 175 during the survey on January 5th.
  • Animal Condition: No animals showing obvious outward signs of severe physical decline due to winter conditions have been observed or reported on the Wildlife Area or in the vicinity.
  • Mortality: None reported to date due to winter conditions.
  • Public Contacts: Staff were informed that Channel 8 news with Grant McOmie will be airing a segment on St. Helens elk this Thursday February 4th. 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 9Week of January 18th:

  • Past Weather: Weather in the South Cascades is warmer than normal with no new snow. Temperatures are above normal and snow pack continues to be below normal.
  • Winter Severity: 95% of the Klickitat Wildlife Area is snow-free and forage habitat is available. There is little concern for the current severity of the winter conditions on big game populations in Skamania County and the western portion of Klickitat County. The eastern portions of Klickitat County have had lower snow fall accumulation this winter and deer are in good condition.
  • Habitat: Habitat is open above 2500 ft and forage habitat has increased for big game this past week.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

District 9Week of January 25th:

  • Past Weather: Weather in the South Cascades is warmer than normal with a dusting of new snow. Temperatures are above normal and snow pack continues to be below normal.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area is snow-free and forage habitat is available. There is little concern for the current severity of the winter conditions on big game populations in Skamania County and the western portion of Klickitat County. The eastern portions of Klickitat County have had lower snow fall accumulation this winter and deer are in good condition.
  • Habitat: Habitat is open above 2500 ft and forage habitat has increased for big game this past week.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None documented this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.