WDFW LogoWashington Department of Fish & Wildlife
  HELP | EMPLOYMENT | NEWS | CONTACT  
WDFW LogoAbout WDFW

Southwest - Region 5
 
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
excluding legal holidays

Telephone (360) 696-6211
Fax (360) 906-6776
TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov

Click here
for Directions

 
Southwest Washington
Wildlife Report Archives

Southwest Washington Wildlife Report Archives
February 2011

February 28, 2011

GAME DIVISION

St Helens Elk Study: Program Manager Jonker, Biologist Miller, and Deer and Elk Specialist McCorquodale participated in a conference call with University of Alberta regarding the University’s role in data gathering of body condition information and reproductive status of elk in SW Washington. University personnel will be playing a significant role in the sampling effort this year and logistics and sampling ideas were discussed.

Post Season Elk Herd Composition Surveys: Biologists Holman, Koberstein, and Hauswald conducted post season elk herd composition surveys over game management units 554 (Yale), 560 (Lewis River), and 572 (Siouxon). Conditions were favorable with clear, cold skies and a nearly entirely snow-covered landscape. Results of the survey will be included in future reports.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Columbian White tailed Deer Status Review: Biologist Miller and Koberstein met to review the progress on the Endangered Species Act Status Review for the Columbian White tailed deer (CWTD). A 5-year review is a periodic analysis of a species’ status conducted to ensure that the listing classification of a species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is accurate. WDFW has been requested by the USFWS to write the analysis for the USFWS for the five year review of the CWTD status. Biologist Koberstein is taking the lead on this project to compile and review existing data for the deer. Information from multiple sources will be incorporated in the review.

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson met with Lisa Wilson, intern with the USFWS Conboy Refuge, to discuss sandhill crane breeding surveys for 2011. Lisa was hired through Americorp to work for Conboy Refuge for a 9 month period. Her primary focus will be conducting ground surveys for breeding sandhill cranes but, in addition, she will participate in Oregon spotted frog egg mass surveys as well as elk herd counts.

WINTER CONDITIONS:

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions:

  • Past Weather: November/December conditions were exceptionally wet but, with a couple of exceptions, temperatures have been within the range of normal. Early and substantial accumulations of snow in the higher areas may have moved animals somewhat sooner than normal. Snow accumulations in the mid and low elevation typical winter range areas have generally been short duration. Temperatures during the first half of January were often below normal resulting in some low elevation snowfall but the coldest weather was combined with dry conditions. Conditions during the latter part of January were warmer than normal with a mix of wet and dry conditions. Most of February was almost spring like with warm temperatures and relatively dry conditions. The last week, however saw record cold temperatures and substantial low elevation snow.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Over the next week we will transition from the recent extreme cold weather to more normal and wet conditions with snow levels around 2,000 feet. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both suggest a continuation of below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation which could again result in significant low elevation snow accumulations.
  • Long-Term Forecast: The longer term outlook maps suggest below normal temperatures continuing into spring and above normal precipitation through March.
  • Habitat: Significant snow fell over the past week at lower elevations and, based on the forecast, we can expect more snow down to at least 2,000 feet. Below that elevation snow will probably begin to slowly clear. This will probably impact forage availability in the near term and tend to concentrate animals in the lowest wintering areas.
  • Snow Depths: Recent heavy snows have brought South Cascade snowpack back to near normal. See attached spreadsheet for detailed information.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations noted to date. Only 87 elk were present on the survey area on February 1st. The next survey on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area will occur next week, weather permitting. Previous surveys included 370 elk (December 6), 248 elk (December 17), and 367 elk (January 3).
  • Animal Condition: No obvious outward signs of winter stress have been noted in animals observed to date.
  • Mortality: None reported.
  • Public Contacts: None to report regarding winter conditions.

The public is reminded that the portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area lying East of a line defined by Hoffstadt Creek, The North Fork Toutle and Deer Creek is closed to public access through April 30 to minimize disturbance and associated energy demands on elk wintering there.

District 9:

  • Past Weather: Recent weather in the South Cascades has changed to more typical winter conditions with below normal temperatures and new snow fall. Freezing levels are at the surface and significant snow has accumulated above 4000 ft.
  • Winter Severity: Moderate weather conditions have reduced winter severity in the last month. Although winter conditions have become more severe this last week, the winter of 2010-2011 has been moderate.
  • Habitat: Habitat is still generally open as most ground cover below 2000 ft is accessible. Recent snow at these elevations is crust free, light and easy for animals to manage. Plenty of snow-free winter range habitat is available in eastern Klickitat County.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions. Small herds of elk have been seen over the past two weeks in valleys and river bottoms on the east side of the Cascades.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

February 14, 2011

As part of a story on the status of elk at St Helens, a crew from Oregon Field Guide, which is a PBS production from Portland, OR, filmed the capture and processing of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area.
As part of a story on the status of elk at St Helens, a crew from Oregon Field Guide, which is a PBS production from Portland, OR, filmed the capture and processing of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area.

GAME DIVISION

Dusky Canada Goose Survey: Biologist Stephens conducted a survey for dusky Canada geese in the Woodland and Kalama areas. Nineteen dusky Canada geese were observed near Kalama and several large flocks of cackling Canada geese were counted in the Woodland Bottoms. A total of 1,435 Canada geese were recorded during the survey. No collared geese were observed.

Mt. St Helens Elk Project: This week staff from WDFW Region 5, WDFW Deer and Elk Specialist; NCASI (National Council for Air and Stream Improvement), University of Alberta, Northwest Helicopters, and a volunteer vet all cooperated to capture 31 elk (10 males and 21 females) in the study area for the St Helens Elk Study. There are now approximately 102 radio collared elk in the 5 GMU study area. Included in the radio transmitters are 26 collars on females that record animal location every 3-4 hours via GPS technology, several of these collars were contributed by the University of Alberta. A great part of this success goes to the ground and flying team effort with pilot Jess Hagerman. A special thanks to Rachael Cook for helping with ultrasound examination and body condition scoring of the live elk. No mortalities were observed during capture. As part of a story on the status of elk at St Helens, a crew from Oregon Field Guide, which is a PBS production from Portland, OR, filmed the capture and processing of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area: / Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Eagle Island Acquisition: Eagle Island recently became the newest Wildlife Area added to the Shillapoo/St Helens complex. This island in the North Fork Lewis River was transferred to WDFW by Clark County Parks. The two agencies had partnered by pulling together a number of funding sources to acquire the site. Clark County did the initial acquisition and management over a period of years. The purpose of acquiring the island was to protect critical and unique salmon rearing habitat and WDFW is to be the long-term management agency. The first enhancement projects targeting improving in-stream fish habitat will soon be under way in partnership with the Cowlitz Tribe. Other future projects will likely include control of scotch broom and restoring riparian forest habitats.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Riparian and Oak Habitat Plantings: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Fox began planting trees and shrubs in the North Unit riparian and oak habitat enhancement sites. Over the next few weeks, several thousand rooted plants, cuttings, and wildlings will be planted on five sites in the North and South Units.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Proposed Projects: Wildlife Area Manager Grabski and Assistant Manager Vanderlip met with WDFW Engineering staff for a project tour. Site visits included proposed projects on culvert replacements, RMAP issues, parking lot enhancements, a water control structure, and roofing improvements spread across four Wildlife Area units.

RMAP: Wildlife Area staff were participants in a teleconference with Green Diamond Resources and Tacoma Power regarding this year’s proposed RMAP projects. Discussions included the ordering of construction materials, funding, permits, and the addition of a new three party MOU.

Biologists and volunteers gathered at the Cowlitz Wildlife Area to assess the body condition of hunter-harvested cow elk organs from the Mount St Helens elk herd.
Biologists and volunteers gathered at the Cowlitz Wildlife Area to assess the body condition of hunter-harvested cow elk organs from the Mount St Helens elk herd.

February 14, 2011

GAME DIVISION

Area 2A Late Canada Goose Season: The Late Canada Goose Season, open to master hunters with SW Washington Canada goose authorizations, began this past Saturday, February 5th. Seventy-five master hunters are enrolled in the late goose hunt. This program takes place on agricultural lands in Goose Management Area 2A with the purpose of assisting landowners with goose damage to crops. The first week of the late hunt consisted of 4 participating farms in Clark and Cowlitz counties and yielded 32 geese harvested. Landowners may seek assistance anytime during the Late Canada Goose Season, which runs until March 9th. Interested landowners can contact the Region 5 office to be connected with the late season coordinator. Check stations are located in Vancouver from 9a.m. to 5p.m and Woodland from 12 p.m. to 5p.m. on hunt days.

The final 80 Avian Influenza samples for this season were submitted to the National Wildlife Health Center. The samples had been collected from cackling Canada geese at the Vancouver and Woodland check stations during the month of January. The testing program is part of a nationwide surveillance effort for early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in wild birds. Washington is located within the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south route of travel for migratory birds. Cackling Canada geese are one of the several species of shorebirds and waterfowl that may have interacted with Asian migratory birds in the Arctic prior to their fall migration. If those Asian birds carried the H5N1 strain of the virus, it would be possible for them to transmit the virus to North American migratory birds. For more information regarding avian influenza surveillance in Washington please visit: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/avian_flu/faq.html

Elk Body Condition Assessment: Biologists and volunteers gathered at the Cowlitz Wildlife Area to assess the body condition of hunter-harvested cow elk organs from the Mount St Helens elk herd. We used a Kistner scoring method to evaluate fat levels on the heart, pericardium, and kidneys (2011ElkOrganScoring.JPG). Tooth samples were also submitted to age each elk. This information offers biologists and wildlife managers an insight into the health and condition of elk herds as they enter winter months. A total of 130 samples were evaluated. A big thank you to all the hunters who contributed samples for this study. Also, thank you to the Cowlitz Wildlife Area for hosting the event, and to everyone who participated in the organ scoring.

WINTER CONDITIONS:

D-10 & MSHWA Winter Conditions:

  • Past Weather: November/December conditions were exceptionally wet but with a couple of exceptions, temperatures were within the range of normal. Early and substantial accumulations of snow in the higher areas may have moved animals somewhat sooner than normal. Snow accumulations in the mid and low elevation typical winter range areas have generally been of short duration. Temperatures during the first half of January were often below normal resulting in some low elevation snowfall but the coldest weather was combined with dry conditions. Conditions during the latter part of the month have been warmer than normal with a mix of wet and dry conditions. The first part of February was almost spring-like with warm temperatures and relatively dry conditions.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Over the next week we will see a return to more normal winter conditions with snow elevations gradually lowering to 1500 feet at the end of the week. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both suggest below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, which could result in significant low elevation snow accumulations.
  • Long-Term Forecast: No Change. The February outlook map suggests below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. NOAA’s longer term outlook maps continue to suggest colder than normal conditions through spring, but the precipitation trend is toward more normal precipitation beginning in March.
  • Habitat: With the recent warmer weather, most typical winter range areas are clear of significant snow cover.
  • Snow Depths: Snowpack in the South Cascades in currently below average. See attached spreadsheet for detailed information.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations noted to date. A monitoring count on the Wildlife Area occurred on January 3rd. 367 elk were counted with a calf/cow ratio of 36/100. Previous surveys included 370 elk (December 6th), and 248 (December 17th).
    No unusual concentrations noted to date. Only 87 elk were present on the survey area on February 1st. This low number could be at least partially attributed to the recent snow melt and warmer weather. Previous surveys included Previous surveys included 370 elk (December 6th), 248 (December 17th), and 367 elk (January 3rd).
  • Animal Condition: No obvious outward signs of winter stress have been reported in animals observed to date.
  • Mortality: None reported that are likely attributable to winter conditions.
  • Public Contacts: None reported by the public 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: Recent weather in the South Cascades has been moderate with mild temperatures and lower than average snowpack.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area has little snow. South facing slopes are open and available for deer.
  • Habitat: Plenty of snow-free winter range habitat available at lower and mid elevations.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions. Small deer herds were observed on south facing slopes in typical areas. Forage was available and deer looked good.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: None reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

February 7, 2011

GAME DIVISION

Area 2A Goose Season: The last day of the regular goose season was Sunday, January 30. Final numbers of geese checked at each station have been summarized and are as follows: Vancouver-791; Woodland- 702; Cathlamet- 290; and Ridgefield- 41; for a total of 1,824 geese in the 2010-11 season. This is down slightly from the 2009-10 season harvest of 2,048 in management area 2A.

Hunting Access: Biologist Holman met with the president of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club to initiate preparation of their ALEA grant application for 2011-13. The Club has facilitated access into Weyerhaeuser’s South St. Helens Tree Farm for the past 17 years, 4 of which have been funded by ALEA. The hunting access provided through this cooperative arrangement provides free public access to approximately 35,000 acres of industrial forestland in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). Thanks to the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club for their ongoing effort to maintain hunting access.

Mt. St. Helens Elk Survey: Biologist Koberstein conducted an elk count on the Mount St Helens Wildlife Area. A total of 87 elk were observed and ten radio collars heard. This is quite a decrease from previous counts, but mild conditions have cleared the valley floor and surrounding hills of snow, which could facilitate elk dispersal. No mortalities or visible stress were detected. Herd composition information was not gathered for this survey. Biologists are preparing for elk captures in the Mount St. Helens area beginning mid-February.

Mt. St Helens Elk Project: Preparations are underway for several field tasks associated with the St. Helens Elk study. Biologists will be examining hunter contributed internal organs to help determine body condition of female elk. Approximately 30 elk will be captured and fitted with radio or GPS collars as part of the study to better understand population levels and habitat use. Staff have contacted all the appropriate landowners and secured permission to land and handle the elk and have coordinated with Cowlitz County to use the heliport at Hoffstadt Bluffs. Oregon Public Broadcasting will also film some of the ground processing of the captures as part of an overall story about elk at Mt St Helens. Lastly, surveys are being scheduled to conduct the herd composition and mark/resight data collection. Preparations included contacting Weyerhaeuser and USFS about flying in their ownerships.