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
October 2010

October 25, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Lower Columbia CWMA: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended the first organizational meeting to form a Cooperative Weed Management Area in the Lower Columbia River Area. A number of other interested groups and organizations attended. The focus weed initially will probably be purple loosestrife but there was also quite a bit of discussion about knotweeds as well. Phragmites is another weed that the group is very concerned about in this area that is not yet well established. The CWMA geographic coverage area will include all or portions of, Pacific, Wahkiakum, and Cowlitz Counties with the focus being on the Columbia River.

Potential Corps of Engineers Partnerships: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Program Manager Jonker attended a meeting held by the Corps of Engineers to discuss the possibility of federal funding for restoration work on the North Fork Toutle. The Corps will have funding available with a required 50% local match for the first phase of conducting a feasibility assessment. Other participating entities at the meeting included The Department of Ecology, Cowlitz County, Cowlitz Tribe, and the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. Potential project options were scoped and many focused on fish passage and habitat issues.

One of the first lateral log wall structures of the stabilization project was installed this week.
One of the first lateral log wall structures of the stabilization project was installed this week.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Stabilization Work Startup: WDFW Engineering Crews began work on the next phase of work to install wood structures along the banks of the North Fork Toutle on the Wildlife Area. The work is intended to create a more stable condition in the floodplain slowing the loss of elk winter range habitat and allow for the establishment of a riparian forest plant community. The work includes construction of several lateral log walls, engineered log jams, and crib walls to deflect the river’s force and accumulate sediment. The project is expected to take several weeks to complete.

One of the first lateral log wall structures was installed this week. The crew foreman saw this structure as a particular challenge because a portion of it extended into the current channel of the river. The Cowlitz Tribe and Lower Columbia River Fisheries Enhancement Group are now scheduled to begin work on their project in about two weeks at a site further downstream.

Forage Sampling: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins collected clip plot samples from three areas to assess the relative values between untreated sites and those that have received lime and fertilizer treatments over the past several years. Staff plan to collect additional samples in the coming weeks from similar areas and also sites that have been planted by volunteers over the past few years.

Scotch Broom Control: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald each spent a day helping the WDFW’s North Puget Weed Crew attack Scotch broom at the east end of the Wildlife Area. Scattered plants remaining from previous work were treated first and concluded in what has for years been called “The big patch.” It will be a few weeks before the results become evident but, if perception of coverage is correct, this name may not apply for much longer. Over a three day period staff covered approximately 250 acres with backpack tanks, ATV sprayers, and long lines from trucks along the road. The North Puget crew has helped on this site repeatedly for several years and each time the work progresses further, which in the long run is helping to gain the upper hand on this long-standing weed problem.

RMAP Planning and Reporting: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins submitted a new Road Maintenance and Plan (RMAP) for the lands that were transferred to WDFW ownership from the Department of Transportation last year. Credit for this submission however, goes to WDFW RMAP specialist Tveten who essentially did all of the work. Without his assistance it would have been basically impossible for the Wildlife Area staff to pull this together. The plan lists each road and any potential resource issues along with a schedule for any needed corrective measures. The plan schedule is to complete any necessary work by 2015.

District Wildlife Biologist Miller met with Biologists Koberstein and Stephens in the Woodland area to conduct training on goose surveys and collar recording.
District Wildlife Biologist Miller met with Biologists Koberstein and Stephens in the Woodland area to conduct training on goose surveys and collar recording.
There are several thousand Cacklers in the Woodland area and biologists had nice conditions to examine a few flocks and work on goose identification skills.
There are several thousand Cacklers in the Woodland area and biologists had nice conditions to examine a few flocks and work on goose identification skills.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Wetland Monitoring: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald sampled three managed wetland basins for prevalence of desirable and non-desirable herbaceous plants. Several wetland basins are monitored each year in an effort to track changes due to moist soil treatments and water regimes. Staff plan to sample at least three more basins this year prior to flooding the sites. Of note in this year’s sampling, was a significant amount of nightshade in one basin and what we believe is riverbank cinquefoil in another; both of which are unusual.

Annual Report: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins submitted the Shillapoo Wildlife Area Annual Report to Bonneville Power for federal fiscal year 2010. The report summarizes activities, accomplishments, and challenges encountered during the contract period. Of note in this year’s report is a discussion of potential effect of intertidal habitat projects on habitat and new monitoring efforts that have begun and/or were developed. Calkins also took our contracting officer from Bonneville on a brief site visit to review some of the work accomplishments and changes.

GAME DIVISION

Employee Goose Orientation and Training: District Wildlife Biologist Miller met with Biologists Koberstein and Stephens in the Woodland area to conduct training on goose surveys and collar recording. Region 5 biologists assist the USFWS with goose surveys twice a month during the winter to document the location and collar codes for neck collared Dusky and Cackling Canada Geese. There are several thousand Cacklers in the Woodland area and biologists had nice conditions to examine a few flocks and work on goose identification skills. No collars were observed during this pre-survey exercise. Biologist Stephens was also shown the location of the Woodland and Cathlamet check stations and some hunting areas in SW Washington. We welcome Biologist Stephens to the Region 5 Wildlife Program as our new Goose Season Coordinator to oversee the regular and late goose seasons.

Landowner Access Program: Biologist Anderson finalized hiring and orientation of a new Lands Access Program position for District 9. We welcome Jim White to our staff. Jim has worked for the USFS as a forester and as the Director of the Underwood Conservation District. Jim is very knowledgeable about landowner issues in Klickitat County and brings a wealth of background in natural resource conservation. This week Jim contacted Western Pacific Timber (WPT) and visited 5 different gated access sites in the Simcoe Mts. Jim is working with WPT to identify primary access points and evaluate the need for informational signs, maps, and to evaluate hunter use of their lands.

Biologist Anderson met with representatives from State Parks and The Columbia River Gorge Commission to evaluate a proposed multi-use trail at Dalles M.t State Park.
Biologist Anderson met with representatives from State Parks and The Columbia River Gorge Commission to evaluate a proposed multi-use trail at Dalles M.t State Park.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Watchable Wildlife at the Woodland Bottoms: Upwards of 150 Sandhill Cranes were observed by Biologists Miller, Stephens, and Koberstein while surveying geese off of the Dike Road in Woodland on October 20th. Loafing cranes were utilizing multiple corn and ryegrass fields while several small garrulous flocks flew overhead sounding their trumpeting trill. The bright, clear skies made for an excellent day of wildlife observations. Birders might want to bring a spotting scope or binoculars to get a good look at the birds. Please be respectful of the birds and landowners and do not trespass or flush the birds in order to get a better view.

Multi-use trail at Dalles Mt. State Park: Biologist Anderson met with representatives from State Parks and The Columbia River Gorge Commission to evaluate a proposed multi-use trail at Dalles M.t State Park. Issues being addressed are deer winter range and raptor nesting habitat on the cliffs adjacent to the Columbia River. After much discussion of trail location and wildlife issues, an agreement was made to reroute the proposed trail to minimize public access to sensitive (and dangerous) cliffs. In addition, State Parks agreed to a plan to close the area to public use during severe winter weather to protect wintering deer.

October 18, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Gray's Bay
Inspecting shotgun.
St Helens District Biologists Miller and Koberstein were joined by FWO Wickersham in an effort to gauge the opening day effort and harvest of waterfowl in the Gray’s Bay vicinity.
Sandhill crane habitat enhancement.
Biologist Anderson met with representatives from the Columbia Land Trust (CLT) in Klickitat County to develop a plan for timber harvest associated with a habitat improvement plan for sandhill crane management.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Opening Deer: The opening weekend of the General Modern Firearm season for deer was accompanied by fair weather in Klickitat County. The hunter turnout was strong on the Klickitat Wildlife Area. Hunter success surveys were conducted on the Wildlife Area Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday October 16th, 143 hunters were contacted. All were hunting in GMU 388. Seven deer and 2 bears were recorded taken among the survey group. The breakdown on harvested deer was one 4X4 buck, two 3X3 bucks, three 2X3 bucks, and one doe. The bears were one adult and one yearling. On Sunday October 17th, 6 hunters working GMU 578 were contacted; none had taken a deer. Fifty-nine hunters were surveyed in GMU 388 the same day, with only one 3X3 buck harvested. Compliance with camp placement rules was fairly good, although numerous notices to move camps were issued on Friday and Saturday. Compliance with the burn ban on the Wildlife Area was also good.

Grazing Permit Presentation to the Oregon Native Plant Society: Manager Van Leuven gave a powerpoint presentation to the Oregon Native Plant Society regarding grazing on the Klickitat Wildlife Area. The audience appreciated the efforts that WDFW is putting into managing the range, made several favorable comments, and had detailed questions about vegetation sampling protocols, ownership and land use history of the permit area, etc.

GAME DIVISION

Cougar: Wildlife Officer Orr and Biologist Anderson followed-up on a report of a cougar mortality in the Underwood area. The cougar was emaciated and had died at the reporting party’s residence that morning. The animal was taken to a local vet to draw blood and check for feline leukemia as per Biologist Bausoleil’s recommendation. It turns out that the Underwood cougar tested positive. Biologist Beausoleil indicates that we have had a dozen or so confirmed cases of this disease in cougars in the Seattle area in the past, but that we have not documented this in any other areas of the state. Feline leukemia is transferable from cat to cat so we are interested in further documentation of this situation. Biologist Beausoleil indicates that feral cats that are not vaccinated and cougars in poor habitats are probably the most at risk.

Duck Season Opener: St Helens District Biologists Miller and Koberstein were joined by FWO Wickersham in an effort to gauge the opening day effort and harvest of waterfowl in the Gray’s Bay vicinity. Conditions were good for a dry day, fog was very heavy and the ducks responded well to calls and decoys. Fourteen hunters were contacted and they averaged 2.1 ducks per person with the bag predominately pintails. Several hunters were cited for exceeding the pintail bag limit and one hunter was contacted that had geese in possession. The bag limit on pintails is 2 and the goose season does not open in Gray’s Bay until November 13. Hunters are encouraged to check the regulations pamphlet before going into the field to make sure they know where they are and what they are shooting. Our thanks to FWO Wickersham for his help with this effort.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson met with representatives from the Columbia Land Trust (CLT) in Klickitat County to develop a plan for timber harvest associated with a habitat improvement plan for sandhill crane management. WDFW is encouraged by the CLT’s interest in improving the forest and wetland habitats associated with their recent purchase of this acreage near Conboy National Wildlife Refuge. This project assists WDFW with our goals of securing and improving habitat for the breeding population of sandhill cranes in Klickitat County.


October 12, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Repairing duck blinds.
Repaired duck blind.
Three duck blinds in the North Unit of Shillapoo Wildlife Area have been rebuilt.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Weed Surveys: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins established three permanent transects to monitor long-term broadleaf weed trends on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. One transect was run in each open habitat type including grazed pasture, improved mowed pasture, and grass/shrub. Sampling included recording the presence of several different weeds in both 1 and 2 meter circular plots at evenly spaced intervals along a straight line. In the future, additional transects will be added to evaluate the effects of various weed management treatments. While we cannot draw any conclusions from this limited initial sampling, it was of interest that tansy ragwort was present in 88% of the 2 meter plots in grazed pasture but absent at the other two sampling locations.

Duck Blind Repair at Shillapoo: Over the last couple of weeks three duck blinds in the North Unit of Shillapoo Wildlife Area have been rebuilt. Volunteers Harris and Fitzgerald repaired blinds 15 and 16, and Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and volunteers from the Washington Waterfowl Association rebuilt blind 17. Special thanks goes out to everyone that helped repair these blinds, as it would not have been accomplished without all of your help.

GAME DIVISION

Area 2A Canada Goose Season: Region 5 Wildlife Program Staff began preparations for the coming of goose season. This has included conducting job interviews for the temporary positions that will work the check stations, assembling materials and equipment, planning, etc. Opening day of Canada goose season in Area 2A is November 13th. Hunters interested in participating in this year's hunt are encouraged to review the regulations, on-line certification test, and other materials prior to the start of the season. The complex regulations encompassing goose hunting in Southwest Washington are designed to protect populations of the dusky Canada goose while still allowing for harvest of the other 6 sub-species which are much more abundant.

Pheasant Release Site Car Counts: Vancouver Wildlife League President and volunteer Snyder completed the car count on the Shillapoo and Vancouver Lake pheasant release sites and Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald counted cars at the Woodland Bottoms site. A total of 106 cars were counted at Shillapoo/Vancouver Lake combined, which is down from 123 last year and 142 in 2008. Conversely the Woodland release site had 27 cars present which is one of the higher counts we have recorded at this site. Car counts are conducted periodically during the season as part of the system used to allocate pheasants among the various Western Washington release sites.

October 4, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Campsite Rehabilitation: Manager Van Leuven has removed fire rings built of rocks at campsites to stop the building of open fires on the KWA this fall. A total of 61 fire rings were dismantled, smoothed out with a shovel, raked to restore a more natural appearance, and signs will be posted. The rocks were loaded and hauled to places where needed to stop vehicle traffic as a more effective barrier to stop people from driving off-road. During this effort to clean up the camping areas, Van Leuven collected about 3 large trash bags of garbage, two cardboard boxes of refuse, a length of carpet rolled up, a broken cooler, large bucket, a wooden pallet, and several pieces of plywood. A surprising amount of trash has turned up in the fire pits - broken glass, burned cans, melted plastic, screws and nails, metal brackets, and other hardware. Much of this is from burning debris from construction sites. This is another negative point on the issue of open fires on the Wildlife Area.

GAME DIVISION

Forestry and Ungulates: Wildlife Program manager Jonker and Deer and Elk Section manager Nelson met with researcher Cook from NCASI (National Council for Air and Stream Improvement) and Weyerhaeuser foresters LaFountaine and Sheldahl and Operations manager Talbert to discuss forestry practices and visit several ungulate exclosures within different aged clear cuts that have been replanted. The use of herbicides, herbivory, and the interaction of herbicides and the pressure of herbivory on shrub and grass species re-growth were discussed including the implications on forage production and deer and elk populations.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman orchestrated additional habitat improvement/enhancement activities at the Bergen Road western pond turtle site. Work was conducted on U.S. Forest Service and private lands and included cutting of non-native plants (blackberry and Scotch broom) and mowing of meadow areas. Inmate crews from DNR’s Larch Mountain Correctional Facility conducted the work. Additionally, the Skamania County Weed Board applied chemicals to areas of blackberry cut earlier in the summer. Approximately 10 acres were treated over a three day period. Finally, a new gate was installed where the much degraded previous gate had been allowing undesired ATV access into the turtle wetlands and nesting areas. Thanks to all who participated in this important effort to maintain quality habitat for western pond turtles. The collaborative nature of work related to western pond turtles was fully evident on this project as the work was organized by WDFW, funded by Bonneville Power Administration, took place on U.S. Forest Service and Private lands, and was conducted by the State Department of Natural Resources and Skamania County.

Approximately 10 acres were treated over a three day period.

In addition, approximately 30 juvenile western pond turtles have been recovered from nest sites in Klickitat County for our head start program. These turtles have been taken to the Oregon Zoo for overwintering.

EMPLYEE GOAL

New Employee: Region 5 is pleased to introduce Marla Koberstein as the temporary Wildlife biologist 1 in District 10. Marla will be helping us with elk parts collections, goose surveys, goose check stations, CWTD surveys and a host of other tasks this winter. Biologist Miller is working with her to accomplish the new employee orientation and get her up to speed on our programs. She will be working from a home office in Longview.