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
September 2010

September 27, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Pheasant Release: Manager Van Leuven and District Biologist Anderson planned for the pheasant release on Saturday. Manager Van Leuven released 60 rooster pheasants at the Klickitat County sites with help from two volunteers. Thirty were placed at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit, 20 were released on the Gun Club Feel Free to Hunt site, and 10 were released at the Finn Ridge Road Feel Free to Hunt Site. The forecast was for fair weather on Saturday, which should help make the youth pheasant hunt enjoyable and exciting for participants.

Hay: Manager Van Leuven worked with other Wildlife Area Managers to arrange for the haystack harvested along Anderson Road at the KWA to be loaded and hauled to the Wenas Wildlife Area for use this winter.

GAME DIVISION

Black-tailed Deer Composition Surveys: Biologist Holman conducted one night spotlighting survey in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). Volunteers associated with the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club participated as well. Approximately 100 deer were located during the 4-hour effort. Data from this survey will be compiled and added to all composition data generated during the August 15 to September 30 period. Fawn to doe ratios eventually become one of the inputs into the Regional Sex Age Kill model of population estimation for blacktails.

St. Helens Elk Nutritional Status Study: Biologist Holman generated and sent the initial set of letters to elk hunters with antlerless tags within the Mt. St. Helens Herd area. Thirty-two Early Muzzleloader Antlerless Elk permit holders for Game Management Unit 554 (Yale) will receive solicitation for their help in the collection of elk organs from harvested elk for nutritional evaluation. Eventually nearly 1000 individuals possessing tags for antlerless elk in the St. Helens Herd GMUs will be asked for their help in this important aspect of elk management. Thanks in advance to all the elk hunters who help with the study.

St. Helens Land Access Program: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker and Scientific Technician Pyzik gave the 2nd of 3 orientations this week for volunteers offering to assist with implementing the St. Helens Land Access Program. This is the fourth year of this cooperative effort between Weyerhaeuser, WDFW, and many volunteer organizations to facilitate providing additional weekday motorized access for hunters during special elk permit seasons on the Weyerhaeuser St. Helen Tree Farm. In addition, a WDFW radio training session was provided for volunteers with this program. We appreciate all the effort from volunteers who have participated in this program and if interested in helping out, please sign up at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/

Hunter Contacts: Regional Wildlife Biologist Holman fielded many requests for information regarding hunting opportunities, access, and management. As the primary hunting seasons approach, i.e. Modern Firearm seasons, these contacts have increased greatly. Especially prominent this year are contacts from individuals that have drawn antlerless elk tags for GMUs with which they have little or no familiarity. Biologist Anderson also continued to answer a significant number of hunter phone calls and emails associated with archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearm seasons in the Columbia River Gorge GMU’s. Many hunters have questions about landowner access and changes to particular season regulations.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Gray Squirrel: Biologist Anderson participated in a conference call/ meeting held in Olympia to discuss data management and surveys for western gray squirrels. The objectives of the meeting were to evaluate how to organize the variety of data sets that have been collected associated with western gray work conducted over the past 15 years.

EMPLYEE GOAL

Employee Training: District Wildlife Biologist Miller, with the help from 3 other MOCC instructors, held a Boat Safety class in Region 5 this week. The attendees included WDFW staff as well as 1 person from WA DNR and 1 from Pacific States. We had an excellent group of students and all passed the course with flying colors. This course is modeled after the one developed by USDI and features a basic boat safety curriculum and includes the students being on the water for approximately 2 of the 3 days of the class. Our thanks to Region 5 fish program for loaning us 2 vessels to conduct the training.

September 20, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Corps of Engineers Pilot Project: Work on the project is in the final stages. The log jam island building structures are 100% complete and the larger “cross valley structure” is very near completion. The geotube that will form the base of the “diversion berm” intended to keep the Toutle River from flowing through the lower reach of Alder Creek is being filled. The contractor is demobilizing equipment off the site as individual tasks are completed. Final completion is expected around the end of the month.

Stabilization Work: WDFW’s Engineering Section awarded a contract for log delivery to the Wildlife Area for further stabilization work scheduled for this fall. The contractor is expected to complete the delivery of 600 logs by the end of this week. WDFW engineering crews will begin work on the construction phase of the project in October. The project entails installation of wood structures similar to those built last summer with the intent to lessen the risk of further erosion loss of critical elk winter habitat as well as allowing for the establishment of riparian plant communities to benefit a wide range of species.

Cowlitz Tribe Cooperative Project: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with Rudy Salakory, biologist with the Cowlitz Tribe, and Tony Meyer and Ed McMillan of the Lower Columbia River Fisheries Enhancement Group to discuss design options for their SRFB grant project. The purpose of the project is to reduce the likelihood of future avulsions of the Toutle River into Hoffstadt Creek. In the past when the river has changed course into the creek, severe impacts to salmonid spawning and rearing habitat have occurred. The preferred design includes construction of a log pile structure similar to some already in place on the Wildlife Area approximately 600 feet long spanning the upper part of the largest avulsion channel and two smaller structures at other avulsion locations. The large structure will be placed such that it should deflect the river and keep its force within the main floodplain area. In addition to protecting fish in Hoffstadt Creek, the project should also create a more stable condition behind the structure, which should allow reestablishment of native vegetation in at least 50 acres that previously had been scoured by the river.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins drafted 2 protocols for monitoring of snag densities in forested habitat and weed occurrence in open habitats. Both procedures are intended to help us document conditions and/or the results of treatments as well as changes over time. Staff plan to complete one snag survey and at least three weed surveys this fall. Snag creation or nest box placement may occur if fewer than two snags per acre are detected. The weed surveys are in response to comments we received during the most recent review by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council where a more quantifiable measure of success of a variety of measures, including weed control, was suggested as desirable.

Weed Control: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald has almost wrapped up Himalayan blackberry control work for the year. Recent treatments focused on areas near Buckmire slough and the “Pencil Lake/West Rookery” wetland basins. The control work at Buckmire slough will make way for future planting of trees and shrubs to enhance riparian habitat. The focus at “Pencil Lake/West Rookery” is to open up sight distances to increase use of the adjoining wetlands and fields by wintering Canada geese.

BPA contract activities: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins entered FY 11 contract information into WDFW CAPS contract tracking system and coordinated with budget staff to set up project coding for the next fiscal year. A budget accrual document was also submitted estimating expenditures through the end of September. Calkins also began work on the required annual report which will summarize activities during the current period.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Various Controls: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven and a contractor applied herbicide to blackberries on the Sondino Unit as well as patches of canarygrass on the Soda Springs Unit. In addition, Van Leuven treated 4 pine trees in the Canyon Creek Campground with copper nails to try to curb the beetle attack. All of these trees show signs of beetles boring in through the bark and 8 trees nearby just died from the beetle infestation. Dead trees were flagged with pink ribbon to make them easier for campers to see and avoid.

GAME DIVISION

Annual Region 5 Deer PR Report: Biologist Holman completed the annual Pittman-Robertson (PR) Report for deer in Region 5. The document includes detailed on management strategies, harvest trends, survey efforts, habitat conditions, research projects and other deer management details for the six counties included in WDFW's Region 5. Interested parties may find previous years' PR Reports on the Hunting page of the WDFW website by selecting Game Status and Trend Reports and scrolling to Region 5 deer.

Archery Season: Biologist Anderson reports heavy pressure from archer elk hunters in GMUs 574 and 578. It appears that there are more people archery hunting this year, a potential result of recent changes in the modern and muzzleloader seasons to cow elk permit hunting. There are reports of half a dozen bulls taken in this area but overall, which is typical for archery, many hunters are reporting little elk activity. Weather conditions have generally been favorable as temperatures have moderated.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson met with representatives of the USFWS, Yakama Indian Nation, and the International Crane Foundation to discuss the results of this year’s breeding surveys and to develop a strategy for next season. With all agencies experiencing limited funding, a plan was discussed to best utilize agency as well as private resources to accomplish minimum survey needs. Next year’s goal will be to attempt to expand surveys into other wetland habitats outside the core breeding area (Conboy NWR) in order to document the potential for an expanding population.

September 13, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Spears Unit Marijuana Removal: CWA staff, while out with a DNR inmate crew to remove a beaver dam authorized under an approved HPA, found a small marijuana crop growing on the edge of a wetland. There were four planting locations with five plants each for a total of twenty plants. The plants were removed and placed in the evidence locker at the Cowlitz Wildlife Area office to be picked up by WDFW enforcement for disposal.

Spears Unit Beaver Dam Removal: CWA staff and a DNR inmate crew removed a beaver dam on Siler Creek on the Spears Unit. The dam was removed in accordance with the provisions of the HPA using hand tools only. The beaver dam removal is part of a larger plan to restore vegetation diversity and improve fish habitat on the Spears Unit. This is an alternative project that came about while conducting a site visit to determine the best route to bring equipment onto the site to conduct a berm removal project permitted by the Corps. It was determined that the beaver dam removal would likely achieve the objectives of the berm removal without the environmental impacts associated with accessing the site with equipment and excavation.

Fence repair
Fence repair
Twenty-two young hockey players from the River City Jaguars Junior A hockey team helped to remove barbed wire from a portion of a fence that will be repaired in the future.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Watchable Wildlife: While working with a group of volunteers, the first lone sandhill crane seen this season was spotted circling over the North Unit of the Wildlife Area. The Wildlife Area and surrounding area are a critical migratory stopover for these birds. While a few of the cranes that arrive here will spend the whole winter, most will spend a few weeks in the fall and spring to feed and refuel their energy reserves before continuing their migration.

North Unit Fence Project with Volunteers: Twenty-two young hockey players from the River City Jaguars Junior A hockey team helped to remove barbed wire from a portion of a fence that will be repaired in the future. The elite group of players (16 to 20 years old) come from Canada, Colorado, Alaska, California, Washington, and Oregon. Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald coordinated the project, which moved along at an incredibly fast pace. Within a work period of 1½ hours the volunteers removed the wire from about ¼ mile of fence, which was the goal for the day. In several areas brush, including Himalayan Blackberry, had to be cut away to get at the wire which made the work a challenge. The photos at right show the team at work and Hauswald giving instruction to some of the players on how to roll the wire neatly so that it can be handled easily during disposal.

Lower Columbia River Estuary MOA Coordination: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins along with Habitat Program Employees met with a neighboring landowner to discuss the Feasibility Study for the potential reconnection of Shillapoo Lake to tidal influence of the Columbia River. The purpose of the meeting was to confirm the landowner’s willingness to participate in the feasibility study and potentially take part in a future project through either land acquisition or flooding easements. Obvious concerns on the landowner’s part are their ability to continue to farm and how they might be compensated for the potential loss of farmland should a reconnection happen in the future.

GAME DIVISION

Hunt Coordination: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Program Manager Jonker completed edits to a letter and compiled materials to be sent to disabled hunters who drew permits for the time period September 20 to 26 in elk area 5099. The letter and materials are intended to explain available access and address common questions concerning boundaries, use of roads and gates, and hunt party size.

September 7, 2010

Wildlife Area fire
The Highway 8 Fire only burned on the west side of the Klickitat River Canyon, where it burned about half of the Fisher Hill Unit with little effect on the tree canopy), but did not reach the Dillacort Unit.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Flat and Leidl Park Campgrounds: Manager Van Leuven coordinated hazard tree removal at Stinson Flat and Leidl Park Campgrounds - twelve dead trees were cut down to a short snag or short stump, depending on location of the tree relative to camping activity. This will improve public safety in the campgrounds considerably.

Highway 8 Fire: Manager Van Leuven checked on the Highway 8 Fire, especially where it burned on WDFW land. The fire only burned on the west side of the Klickitat River Canyon. It burned about half of the Fisher Hill Unit with little effect on the tree canopy, but did not reach the Dillacort Unit. The fire fighter response to this incident was particularly well organized and effective, and local officials have expressed great appreciation for the work of all the people involved. One structure was lost - it is remarkable that the damage was not greater considering the high winds and dry fuels that day. Local winds were measured at 50 miles per hour on Aug. 26th.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Watchable Wildlife: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald observed 80-90 white pelicans late one afternoon on Vancouver Lake as he was returning to the office. This is the second time in the past week that pelicans were observed in the area.

Goat Rocks Mountain Goat Population Estimates
Year Estimated
Goat Population
2004 250
2005 340
2006 308
2007  
2008 282
2009 285
2010 224

GAME DIVISION

Mountain Goat Surveys: Biologist Holman summarized mountain goat survey data for the past several years as a follow-up to recently conducted surveys. See the table at right demonstrating the results of sightability corrected mountain goat surveys in the Goat Rocks area. The downward trend in the population estimate may require a reduction in available tag numbers in future years per the prescriptions outlined in the Game Management Plan.