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
November 2010

November 29, 2010


Area 2A Canada Goose Season. Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians continued to work check stations for the goose hunting season. Opening weekend saw a turnout of 52 hunters and 101 geese checked in Vancouver, 43 hunters and 100 geese checked in Woodland, and 16 hunters checking 28 geese in Cathlamet. The weekend totals for these three check stations was 111 hunters and 229 geese harvested, for an overall success rate of 2.0 geese per hunter. Species harvested included six subspecies of Canada goose (cackling, Taverner’s, lesser, dusky, western, and Vancouver), snow, and greater white-fronted goose.

Goose hunting season has closed at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge as the quota of dusky Canada geese has been reached on the Refuge. Duck hunting remains open at Ridgefield per the standard procedure of reservations, blind selection etc. All other hunt zones within Goose Management Area 2A remain open. However, goose hunters are reminded of the break in the season which encompasses November 29 through December 7th when goose season is closed throughout Area 2A. Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.


Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Anderson is currently working with Bonneville Power administration staff on next year’s funding of the western pond turtle project. BPA has indicated that our project needs to focus on habitat development and predator control to adequately provide mitigation credit for the project. Past project emphasis has been focused on population augmentation and monitoring. WDFW has successfully increased the WPT population in the Columbia River Gorge via the head start program funded primarily by BPA. This fall the project successfully completed major habitat improvements on WDFW, USFS, and private lands in the Gorge. In addition to the development of next year’s proposal, biologists Holman and Anderson have initiated preparation of the annual report to BPA on 2010 accomplishments.

November 22, 2010


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Stabilization Projects: WDFW engineering crews are wrapping up construction of bank stabilization structures along about ½ mile of the Toutle River. The project has progressed smoothly with the exception of one structure where the substrate was found to be impenetrable for purposes of installing wood pilings. Design engineers in the Capital Asset Management and Habitat programs have collaborated on a different engineered logjam design for this site to replace the planned lateral log wall. Work is expected to be complete by the last week of November.

The Cowlitz Tribe and Lower Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group are also beginning work on a separate project designed to address the threat of the Toutle River from avulsing into Hoffstadt Creek. In the past when the river has jumped course in these areas, valuable salmon spawning and rearing habitat has been impacted. This design involves installation of barriers in the previous avulsion channels consisting of log piling walls or piled logging slash

US Army Corps of Engineers, Grade Building Structures Pilot Project: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins was contacted by staff from the US Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate repairs to one of the structures completed earlier this fall. The most critical portion of the largest structure has been undermined during recent rain events causing it to not function as designed. The Corps is currently working on securing funding and approvals from the federal services to move forward with repairs. Potential repair plans call for placing sandbags and rock in portions of the structure by helicopter given that the site is now far too wet for traditional equipment to reach.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Field activities: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald is wrapping up mowing of pastures and reed canary grass in wetlands for the season with only a few sites yet to be completed. Dam boards are being installed in wetland water control structures and we are beginning to operate the South Unit Pump station periodically and Clark Public Utilities has started up the water supply to the Vancouver Lake Unit. Clark Public Utilities provides water for wetland management purposes to the Vancouver Lake Unit and County wetlands at no cost. Hauswald also conducted the first waterfowl use monitoring surveys of the season. These surveys are intended to eventually help us build a better view of the relative values of various management practices, and in some cases may provide pre and post enhancement usage by Canada Geese and several other species.

Estuary MOA Feasibility Study: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins responded to draft documents on potential creation of intertidal habitats on the North and South Units. Comments provided a portrayal of current management direction and habitat tradeoffs that we may face in this decision, evaluated assumptions, and how public use may be affected.


Elk hunters contribute to WDFWs nutritional elk evaluation by submitting organs from harvested elk at drop locations.
Elk hunters contribute to WDFWs nutritional elk evaluation by submitting organs from harvested elk at drop locations.

St. Helens Elk Nutritional Status Study: Program Manager Jonker, Biologists Stephens and Holman along with Technicians Fox and Pyzik generated and sent the final set of letters to elk hunters with antlerless tags within the Mt. St. Helens Herd area. One-hundred and fifty Late Muzzleloader Antlerless Elk permit holders for Game Management Unit 578 (West Klickitat) and 100 Late Muzzleloader Antlerless Elk permit holders for Game Management Unit 574 (Wind River) will receive solicitation for their help in the collection of elk organs from harvested elk for nutritional evaluation. In sum, nearly 1300 individuals possessing tags for antlerless elk in the St. Helens Herd GMUs have been asked for their help in this important aspect of elk management. Thanks in advance to all the elk hunters who help with the study.

Antlerless-only elk hunts in GMUs 520, 522, and 550 have come to an end and to date District 10 biologists have collected a total of 26 elk organ and teeth samples from four locations. Sample submissions are down from last year and hunters are encouraged to submit elk parts from the 524 and 556 antlerless only hunts beginning Nov. 23rd. Drop locations are checked regularly and samples are collected and transferred to a freezer. Thank you to the hunters who have participated in the elk parts collection thus far. These efforts help determine elk health by measuring body condition/fat and contribute to management and ongoing studies of the Mount St. Helens herd.

Elk Season: Biologist Anderson reports that the elk season in the South Cascades had normal hunter levels but harvest was generally poor. Several nice bull elk were taken in the Lewis River unit but preliminary results indicate that those with cow elk tags had little success. Gorge units 574 and 578 (Wind River and West Klickitat) were slow as few elk were reported in those units. Weather during the majority of the elk season was mild with most habitats up to 6000 being open to elk. Conflicts with trespass and fire safety were minimal in the Glenwood Valley this year due to the change in cow elk hunting by permit and a strong enforcement presence on the opening weekend.

Goose Collar Surveys: Biologist Koberstein conducted a Cackling and Dusky Canada Goose collar survey. Survey locations include Willow Grove in Cowlitz county and areas near Rosburg and Puget Island in Wahkiakum county. A total of 1165 cackling and 7 Dusky Canada geese were observed. Surveys are conducted twice a month and are part of a continued effort to estimate population dynamics, survival, and dispersal for Cackling and Dusky Canada geese.

Private Lands Access Program: Technician White met with two landowners in Klickitat County currently under contract with our lands access program to update informational signs and discuss the current WDFW program. In addition, White visited the Klickitat Hatchery to evaluate hunting on and adjacent to our property and contacted another large forest land owner in Klickitat County about signing up for our access program.

November 15, 2010


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Pheasant Release: Manager Van Leuven coordinated the release of 143 pheasants, on Nov. 12th. Van Leuven worked with WDFW biologist White and volunteers Wheelhouse, Johnson, and Messenger to place 70 pheasants at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit, 42 at the Gun Club property, and 31 at the Finn Ridge Rd. site. There was concern that recent snow had caused the soil to turn to mud, but were pleasantly surprised to find that the ground was still firm enough to permit good access to the sites.

Some reader board signs on Hancock property are in poor shape and WDFW hopes to work with Hancock to repair or replace many of these signs.
Some reader board signs on Hancock property are in poor shape and WDFW hopes to work with Hancock to repair or replace many of these signs.


Area 2A Canada Goose Season: Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians worked the opening day of goose season in Area 2A. Hunter turnout and success were similar to opening weekends of years past and will be summarized in future weekly reports. Hunters interested in participating in goose hunting in Southwest Washington are reminded of the requirement to gain WDFW authorization prior to hunting, and to check all geese at check stations. See the 2010-2011 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Bird Seasons pamphlet for details related to goose hunting. The complex season structures in Southwest Washington (and Northwest Oregon) are in place to protect populations of the dusky Canada goose.

Elk Season: Biologist Anderson reports a slow opening few days for elk hunters in the South Cascades. Most habitats were open and accessible during the early part of the week causing elk to be widely distributed with low hunter success. Mid week snows made tracking easier and hunter success improved in the Lewis River unit. Several reports of elk taken came from the Wind River drainage. Overall hunter numbers in the Trout Lake area are considered normal for elk seasons in the past 5 years.

Private Lands Access Program: Biologist White concentrated on elk hunting activity on Hancock Forest properties around Trout Lake and Glenwood; visiting about 10 gates and 15-20 road systems, and replaced 5 worn FFTH signs. There were a moderate number of hunters out during elk season with warm weather early in week. Some reader board signs on Hancock property are in poor shape and WDFW hopes to work with Hancock to repair or replace many of these signs.

November 8, 2010


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Seasonal Closures: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven implemented the established seasonal road closures by closing gates on the South Breaks Road, Old Headquarters Road, and Anderson Road on November 1st. These closures are primarily to minimize disturbance to wintering wildlife and protect winter range as well as roads.

This concrete structure was used to separate the carbon dioxide from the carbonated water that flows naturally from a spring located on the Mineral Springs Unit.
This concrete structure was used to separate the carbon dioxide from the carbonated water that flows naturally from a spring located on the Mineral Springs Unit.

Well Decommissioning: Manager Van Leuven inspected locations of known springs or wells on the Mineral Springs Unit with WDFW Engineer Ward and Department of Ecology Water Resources Program staff Richardson. Each site was visited to learn what the current condition of the spring is and consider whether any action is needed to comply with state laws protecting groundwater resources. Of the nine sites that were checked, three were initially thought to need decommissioning. This involves filling the well up with a sealing agent such as bentonite. A local well driller did a more thorough inspection, and found that two of these have already been decommissioned. It was agreed that some work will need to be done at three locations to better protect public safety. The photo at right shows the concrete structure that was used to separate the carbon dioxide from the carbonated water that flows naturally from the spring. These springs were developed for this purpose as well as for the manufacture of dry ice among other things. The orange color of the water in the pools is due to presence of iron-eating bacteria, which pose no threat to human health.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Land Maintenance: Inmate crews from the Cedar Creek Correctional facility finished brushing a half-mile of the Clevenger Road (wood donated to charity) on the Kosmos Unit, cleared the Swofford Pond Trail, and removed the encroaching vegetation to one of the ditches on the Mossyrock Unit. This ditch is part of the water supply for the moist soil project and had reached a point where flow of water would back up over Young Road during the winter. Additionally, 1,500 feet of right-of-way fencing on the Spears Unit located near Randle was replaced.

RMAP: The RMAP project on Peterman Unit is a shared responsibility between the Cowlitz Wildlife Area, Tacoma Power, and Green Diamond Resources Company. Green Diamond has completed several projects this year including the replacement of an undersized culvert with a fish pipe on the 1600 road and the removal of a perched and undersized culvert on the 2500 road. The 2500 road and its branch roads were abandoned at this time as well. CWA staff have been logging several hours driving the 75 miles of roads on the Peterman Unit to document the conditions (i.e. open or brush encroaching) and to address the future use of the roads; whether to be maintained or abandoned.


Collared Goose Survey: Biologists Miller and Koberstein conducted a goose collar survey on November 1st in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. A total of 4034 geese were counted, including 8 Dusky Canada geese found in Eden Valley in Wahkiakum County. Survey efforts focused on Dusky and Cackling Geese flocks in the Willow Grove area in Cowlitz county, and Puget Island and Eden Valley in Wahkiakum County. Flocks were found primarily on large, open grass fields with standing sheet water. Surveys are conducted twice a month and are part of a continued effort to estimate population dynamics, survival, and dispersal for Cackling and Dusky Canada geese.

Private Lands Program: Biologist White checked hunter activity during the east side elk season on Western Pacific Forestry lands and also checked Westside elk season camps to better evaluate hunter access to gated private timberlands this week. Gates, reader boards, and sign conditions were evaluated on Hancock Forest property and signs were replaced as necessary. Biologists White, Anderson, Jonker and Cope participated in a coordination meeting regarding hunter access, incentives for landowners, and potential for habitat enhancement work as part of the Private Lands Program.

Barrel for the collection of elk body part for a survey of elk health in an area where winter losses have been an issue.
Barrel for the collection of elk body parts for a survey of elk health in an area where winter losses have been an issue.

Elk Parts Collection: District 9 and 10 Biologists began the 2nd year of elk body condition collection this week by distributing barrels and signs for hunters to drop off the parts used to document body fat. Collection locations will be checked regularly during the season to empty the barrels and then freeze the hearts and kidneys for later examination. Body condition/fat is a very good indicator of elk health in an area where winter losses have been an issue in the past. The survey will contribute to the Elk Herd Plan management activities and to an ongoing elk study of the St Helens Elk Herd.


Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson continued with plans for additional habitat improvement work for western pond turtle habitat at Beacon Rock State Park. Plans are in place for meadow mowing and blackberry removal as weather conditions allow in the next two weeks. This work is being funded by a grant from Bonneville Power Administration for recovery of this state endangered species.

November 1, 2010


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Hunter Success Surveys on the Soda Springs Unit: Rain arrived over the weekend, especially on Sunday, which brought mixed blessings with hunters being able to move around more quietly and with somewhat better cover, but also creating more challenging conditions for camping. On Saturday Oct. 23, 101 hunters were polled by Manager Van Leuven; with 5 deer harvested. Four of the animals were 3X3 point bucks taken in GMU 388. One deer had 3 points on one side, but the other side was hard to determine due to the main beam being broken near the one remaining point on that side. On Sunday Oct. 24, 47 hunters reported only one animal, a doe taken in GMU 388 that day. Many campers moved out for the season on Sunday. A few fire pits like those used in backyards were observed full of water on Sunday, while enclosed stoves (which are permitted for use) were still burning nicely. From an enforcement perspective, fires in fire pits with a screen over the top are still regarded as essentially open fires.

Pheasant Release: Birds were delivered to the Goldendale meeting place and volunteers Johnson, Ihrig, Wheelhouse, and Thompson assisted WDFW staff in dispersing the pheasants to the three release sites. Seventy pheasants were released on the WDFW-owned Goldendale Hatchery Unit, 40 were released at the Gun Club property, and 33 were placed at the Finn Ridge Road site. The last two locations are "Feel Free to Hunt" sites. Conditions on Saturday should have made for good hunting.

RMAP Planning and Reporting: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven completed the Road Maintenance and Plan (RMAP) annual report and submitted it to the Department of Natural Resources and WDFW RMAP specialist Tveten.

Removing Himalayan blackberries from the Sondino Unit.
Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven worked with a crew from Larch Corrections Center on a habitat restoration project on the Sondino Unit to remove Himalayan blackberries, a listed noxious weed.

Habitat Restoration on the Sondino Unit: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven worked with a crew from Larch Corrections Center on a habitat restoration project on the Sondino Unit. Himalayan blackberries, a listed noxious weed, had overrun approximately 1 acre of habitat adjacent to wetlands and had invaded about 3 more acres in scattered locations on the Sondino Unit. Herbicide was applied selectively to the blackberries in September. The vines will require another application next year to achieve complete control. In order to make the next effort as effective as possible, the dead vines were cut down by the Larch crew using chainsaws, and the cut material was raked away from the crowns of the plants. This way, if and when the plants re-sprout next year, only the new growth will need to be treated as the old, dead stalks will not be preventing the herbicide from reaching the target plants. Once the blackberries have been killed, the plan is to replant the area with native shrubs such as snowberry and wild rose, which are found in native habitats occupied by western pond turtles.

Manager Van Leuven also applied herbicide to reed canarygrass on the Sondino Unit using a backpack sprayer to treat about 1-1/2 acres of canarygrass with Aqua Neat, a wetland-approved herbicide that is effective on canarygrass. The perimeter of Pond A has a well-established stand of canarygrass and patches of this grass were found along the ditchbank that feeds Pond A, as well as a few other damp upland areas. All of these areas were selectively treated. Care was taken to avoid non-target plants, and in certain areas where grass species were unknown, no herbicide was applied. Aqua Neat has been used to control canarygrass on the Soda Springs Unit of the Klickitat Wildlife Area with good results so far. Results of this year’s treatment will be monitored and considered before treating other known infestations around Ponds B and C.


2011 Big Game Season Setting: Region 5 Biologists are reviewing the Division directions for changes to the Big Game hunting regulations for 2011 and working on adjustments for next season, which represents the third year in the current 3-year cycle.

Region 5 Deer Management: Biologists Holman and Stephens tallied and summarized the deer spotlighting surveys from September. Two night spotlighting surveys were conducted on private forestlands in Game Management Unit 568 Washougal. A total of 249 deer were observed during these efforts with 205 classified. The resulting ratios of 47 fawns and 20 bucks per 100 does are both somewhat higher than historic averages for this survey. Data generated from this work is included in the Regional Sex Age Kill model for population estimation. Thanks to members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club for their assistance with the surveys.

Private Lands Program: Biologist White visited Western Pacific Timber lands to update of signs on their property as well as update contact information on Columbia Land Trust Property signs. White contacted 12 cooperators via phone during the week, made arrangements to visit with 2, and will connect with others in the coming weeks. Biologist White also made maps of properties and picked up additional signs for the project from Walla Walla.

St. Helens Land Access Program: Scientific Technician Pyzik and Biologist Miller conducted a radio training session for volunteers participating in the St. Helens Land Access Program, which facilitates additional motorized weekday access to the Weyerhaeuser St. Helens Tree Farm during special elk permit season. WDFW appreciates all the help from volunteers in providing additional access for hunters in the 4th year of this program.