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 Report Archives

Southwest Washington Wildlife Report Archives
January 2011

Janaury 31, 2011

Bank stabilization projects completed over the past two years on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area.
Bank stabilization project completed over the past two years on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area.
 
Spear Pond
The Spears Mill Pond on the Cowlitz Wildlife Area is finally full thanks to flooding this year.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Stabilization Projects: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Assistant Manager Hauswald, Biologist Salakory of the Cowlitz Tribe, and their contractor made a site visit to bank stabilization projects completed over the past two years on the Wildlife Area. All of the projects are still functioning to stabilize the previously eroding bank line along the mudflow. The tribe’s project this year, which has yet to be tested by the river, included a 670 foot long log pile structure and two other smaller ones at separate locations to prevent the Toutle River from avulsing into Hoffstadt Creek. Past avulsions at this location have caused impacts to salmon/steelhead habitat. The photo at right illustrates the scale of this project. Note the group standing near the center of the structure. The group also visited the Corps of Engineers Grade Building Structures Pilot Project site downstream. Their repaired “Cross Valley Structure” accumulated significant amounts of sediment during the recent high flow event and a substantial portion of the river’s flow is now going around it. The Corps has two live remote webcams that allow views of this project site at the following link: http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/projects/mountsthelens.asp

Winter Range Forage Availability: During the site visit above we were able to observe that, despite relatively high numbers of elk on the site this year, a substantial amount of herbaceous forage remains on the mudflow. While some sites have been grazed relatively heavily, sites immediately adjacent appear to be almost untouched so far. To date no winter kill mortality has been detected by WDFW on the Wildlife Area or in the vicinity, but undoubtedly as winter progresses some animals may succumb to the stresses that winter conditions place on their systems.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Maintenance: Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Fox repaired approximately 300 feet of fence along the Reiger Highway. Wire had fallen off the Fence in several locations. This boundary fence discourages off road abuse into one of the tree plantings on the Wildlife Area. Water control structures are checked on a weekly basis and all wetland basins are currently at or near full capacity. We will attempt to keep water levels as high as possible through spring in most of these areas to effect control of reed canary grass and then draw the water levels down to allow for reestablishment of desirable moist soil plants. Some sites may be drawn down sooner in sites where we plan to disk to control canary grass this year.

Intertidal Habitat Feasibility Study: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins began preparing a listing of the various fund sources used for past land acquisitions and projects on the Wildlife Area as well as other real estate interests. Past commitments associated with grants as well as easements will need to be evaluated as part of the initial feasibility study before we can move forward with appraisals and further work toward potential acquisition of additional lands as part of the study. In some cases, a change in management may require that we acquire additional land, replace projects, or give back grant funds that were used in the past for acquisition or habitat projects.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Spears Mill Pond Project: The Spears Mill Pond is finally full thanks to flooding this year. Flood debris in the trees would indicate the flooding was nearly 3 feet above the dike. Site visits show that the pond is holding water and that the levels being managed by the stand pipe are optimal. It is expected that the invasive emergent vegetation that was beginning to dominate the pond will now be suppressed and the pond will once again provide deep water habitat. There is no natural recharge for this pond so pumping in accordance with the water right will still be a management tool to augment the recharge that occurs with flooding. The pond will be closely monitored this year to determine the amount of water lost to evapotranspiration and to determine if pumping will likely be an annual event. CWA staff will be putting a boat on the pond to determine the average depth. The information will be used to guide future management projects.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Weed Survey: Manager Van Leuven completed the Weed Survey for the Klickitat Wildlife Area and submitted the results.

Region 5 Deer Productivity Chart
Region 5 Deer Productivity Chart
1995-2010

Click chart to enlarge
 
Pooled Klickitat Post-season Deer Buck-to-Doe Ratios-
Pooled Klickitat Post-season Deer Buck-to-Doe Ratios
2003-2010

Click chart to enlarge

GAME DIVISION

Region 5 Deer Management: Biologist Holman summarized two significant deer survey efforts conducted in 2010. First, Productivity surveys that are conducted annually from mid-August through the end of September were compiled. This year’s surveys resulted in a solid fawn to doe ratio of 55 fawns per 100 does and indicate good productivity within the deer population during 2010. This information is further condensed into broad areas of the Region and used as one of the inputs into the Sex Age Kill model of population estimation. Another point of interest regarding this survey is the large sample size of 837 classified animals. This is the largest sample collected since inception of this variety of Regional deer survey in 1995. Volunteers associated with local forest management companies, federal agencies, the master hunter program, and citizens at large all deserve thanks for their contribution to this aspect of Regional deer management. Please see thechart at right for a graphic illustration of the trend in fawn to doe ratio and sample size associated with this survey.

Secondly, Post-Season Klickitat Deer Herd Composition surveys were summarized. This work takes place following the end of the final hunting seasons of the year (December 8th) and concludes around the end of the year. The surveys are conducted to evaluate Regional deer management strategies against the goals outlined in the Game Management Plan. Specifically a goal of 15 bucks per 100 does is desired in the Klickitat populations. The 2010 surveys included a record sample size of 1544 classified deer but attained a pooled Klickitat ratio of only 10 bucks per 100 does. Unfortunately bad weather and lack of pilot availability forced the aerial portion of these surveys into early January after the initiation of antler casting. It is likely that the true ratio of bucks to does is somewhat higher than the value attained and evaluation of current management strategies will (as always) be viewed within a larger context of multiple survey years. Please see the figure at right for a graphic illustration of the trend in post season buck to doe ratios in the Klickitat deer population.

Canada Goose collar survey: Biologist Koberstein conducted a cackling and dusky Canada goose collar survey in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties. A total of nine duskies were observed in Skamokawa and on Puget Island. Several flocks of cacklers were observed along the survey route, totaling 3,221 geese. No alpha-numeric collars were seen, although a radio-collared “Wusky” Canada goose was viewed near Skamokawa.

Area 2A Goose Season: The last day of the regular goose season was Sunday, January 30th. Final numbers of hunter turnouts and success rates will be summarized in future reports. The Late Canada Goose season, open to master hunters with a SW Washington Canada Goose Authorization, will begin on Saturday, February 5th.

Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

St. Helens Land Access Program: The St. Helens Land Access Program has been successful thanks to the collaboration and hard work of the many participating volunteer organization leaders and members, Weyerhaeuser, and WDFW staff. A thank you luncheon was held to honor all the volunteers who participated in the Program to facilitate additional weekday motorized access to the St. Helens Tree Farm during special elk permit seasons this year. The luncheon was well attended and we all look forward to implementing another safe and successful program next year!

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.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Continued mild temperatures and only moderate precipitation are forecast for the next week. Snow levels will be above 3000 feet. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both suggest above normal temperatures and normal precipitation.
  • Long-Term Forecast: 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. During other work this week, we noted that significant amounts of herbaceous forage on the Wildlife Area are still available but the distribution was highly variable. Heavily grazed sites are intermixed with areas that have received little grazing pressure where green grasses are at least 6 inches in height. Use of shrubs has been moderate. The recent high water event resulted in no significant forage habitat losses with the stabilization measures in place.
  • Snow Depths: Snowpack in the South Cascades in currently near 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).
  • 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. This week, biologists observed one animal dying near SR 504 which had a large abscess on its neck.
  • Public Contacts: A citizen came into the regional office this week concerned about at least two animals at Eco Park Resort with hoof rot.

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 moderated with warming temperature above freezing at 5000+ft. The snowpack below has significantly melted with warming and periodic rains.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area has some snow but 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 the Columbia Hills of Klickitat County below 1000 ft. 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.

January 24, 2011

High winds downed a grove of ponderosa pines along Hwy 142 on the Mineral Springs Unit.
High winds downed a grove of ponderosa pines along Hwy 142 on the Mineral Springs Unit.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Weather Damage: On Martin Luther King Day, high winds caused damage in localized areas around Goldendale, along Highway 14, and in the Klickitat River Canyon. While Manager Van Leuven was checking for flood damage on WDFW lands, she found that a grove of ponderosa pines along Hwy 142 on the Mineral Springs Unit had blown down. Department of Transportation personnel had to cut up at least two of them to clear the highway near Milepost 16, which was blocked for over two hours. While the Wildlife Area did not lose a lot of trees in this storm, it is unfortunate that these particular trees went down. This was a pretty spot along the highway, popular with fishermen and others who enjoyed the large, picturesque trees. Nine trees were uprooted and Manager Van Leuven has been in touch with WDOT requesting that the logs be reserved for habitat improvement along the river. There was no evidence of flood damage at the Mineral Springs Campground or wind damage at Headquarters. Because heavy rains melted the snow so fast, the ground is saturated and roads are soft.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Corps of Engineers Long Term Sediment Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended a meeting sponsored by the Corps to review the status of various concepts they are developing as possible components of a long-term sediment management program in the Toutle Cowlitz River system. Their primary objective is to find ways to reduce flood risk in Castle Rock, Longview, and Kelso and other points along the Cowlitz where sediment deposition has reduced the floodplain volume. Measures covered included raising the current sediment retention structure by 30-70 feet, dredged sumps in the sediment plain, grade building structures similar to the concept of the existing pilot project, dredging in the Cowlitz, Stabilizing sediments at the old LT-1 sump on the Toutle, Flushing flows from Mayfield Dam, and pile dikes near the mouth of the Cowlitz. Discussions focused on some of the potential effects of the various alternatives and to some degree habitat benefits of some of them. The Corps plans to complete this planning effort by the end of this year. The evaluation from a fish and wildlife perspective will be complex as impacts of some of the options on one site may avoid impacts a long distance away.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Potential Intertidal Habitat Projects: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins has been involved in numerous meetings concerning the feasibility of establishing intertidal habitats on the Wildlife Area. Most recently, discussions have centered on the potential for acquiring private lands in the Shillapoo Lake basin. The feasibility of a large scale project area here may well hinge on the willingness of this landowner to sell some of their land due to the high cost of construction of setback levees that would be needed to protect those lands from inundation.

Snow Geese Appearing in Large Numbers: At least 1,500 snow geese were spotted using corn fields on McBride Ridge in the South Unit of the Wildlife Area this week. Seeing large numbers of snows has become a more common occurrence in recent years. This year we have seen these birds in smaller flocks on a regular basis but this sighting was unusual. The regional office fields calls on a regular basis now about snow geese and how they fit into the goose area 2A regulations. In brief, they do count as part of the daily bag limit for geese and also need to be recorded on the daily harvest card along with other goose species.

GAME DIVISION

Dusky Canada Goose Surveys: Biologist Holman conducted two surveys for dusky Canada geese in the Woodland area. Three flocks of duskies, totaling 54 birds, were collectively observed on the surveys. No collared geese were among the duskies located.

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 one component of the population modeling compiled to monitor the species' status. In addition, surveys are conducted on the dusky nesting grounds in the Copper River Delta of SE Alaska.

Area 2A Goose Season: Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians have cumulatively checked 1524 and seen 788 hunters at stations in Vancouver, Woodland, and Cathlamet. The last day of the regular goose hunt season will be Sunday, January 30th. Hunters are reminded that the check station hours are 10:00am to 6:00pm on hunt days. Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

Private Lands Program: Technician White met with several hunt-by-written permission landowners to pick up their permission slips for the year. White worked with contracting staff in Olympia on amendments to the Hancock timber contract and worked with two cooperators overdue for a new agreement.

Mount St. Helens Radio Collar Survey. In preparation for elk captures and collar replacements next month, biologists Koberstein and Stephens listened for radio collars on the Mount St. Helens Monument and St. Helens Wildlife Area. The majority (8) of the 13 collars heard were originally collared on the Loowit GMU. No mortality signals were detected.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Golden Eagles/Ferruginous Hawks: Biologist Anderson completed and submitted data forms for the 2010 breeding season survey for golden eagles and ferruginous hawks in Klickitat County. Plans are currently underway for additional follow-up surveys for these two species during the 2011 field season. Surveys will be primarily focused on sites in Klickitat County associated with wind farm development.

January 18, 2011

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Land Exchange: On January 4th, the Board of Natural Resources approved a proposed land exchange between the Department of Natural Resources and WDFW. The Klickitat Wildlife Area is to receive two parcels in Dry Canyon. Each parcel is roughly 40 acres in size, for a total of 90 acres. These parcels border on land that is already owned by WDFW. The land is in a natural state and will continue to provide wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities under WDFW ownership.

Water Well Decommissioning on the Mineral Springs Unit: Decommissioning of three wells has been completed by a local contractor. All three wells had been partially sealed off years ago. The work completed at the end of December was to finish off the decommissioning of the wells so that these inactive wells pose no threat to public safety or resources, as required by state law. Some work remains to be done: dumped debris on the property is to be picked up and hauled away, and planned new fencing should discourage future dumping. The fence will include provisions for hikers to pass through.

GAME DIVISION

Post Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Holman and Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven conducted a post-season deer survey flight over portions of GMUs 578 (West Klickitat) and 388 (Grayback). Biologist Anderson provided flight-following for the survey. Conditions were favorable for the survey and a total of 1,017 wintering deer were observed on the flight. Buck to doe and fawn to doe ratios will be calculated and summarized in future reports.

Area 2A Goose Season: Biologist Stephens and Holman submitted 80 samples taken from cackling Canada geese to the National Wildlife Health Center to be tested for Avian Influenza. The samples had been collected from goose check stations in Vancouver and Woodland during the month of December. Results from samples collected in November came back negative for Avian Influenza.

St. Helens Land Access Program: WDFW would like to thank the 47 volunteers and Weyerhaeuser staff for ensuring another safe and successful year of implementing the St. Helens Land Access Program. In 24 days of volunteering, these volunteers worked 2274 hours, with volunteer Houston volunteering 20 of these 24 days. The volunteers not only helped provide additional weekday motorized access to the St. Helens Tree Farm during special elk permit seasons this year; they helped with a cleanup of Weyerhaeuser’s roads on December 13, 14, and 15. During these three days of cleanup the volunteers covered about 67 miles of Weyerhaeuser’s roads picking up 17 bags of beer cans, pop cans and bottles, water bottles, energy drink cans, and any other trash along with one steel fence post, weight lifting weights, newspaper box, and one car tire.

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 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.
  • Short-Term Forecast: Wet weather with relatively mild temperatures are forecast for the next week. Snow levels will range from 1500 to 7000 feet. Rain at the higher elevations could cause significant rises in river levels, potentially impacting habitat. The 6-10 day outlook suggests above normal temperatures and normal precipitation and the 8-14 day outlook suggests above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, which could result in substantial snow melt.
  • Long-Term Forecast: The January outlook is for below normal temperatures in Western Washington and has the state in the center of the zone for above normal precipitation. NOAA’s longer term outlook maps continue to suggest colder and wetter than normal conditions through the winter, making severe conditions a possibility. From this point forward the maps suggest the chances of below normal temperatures increasing through spring but the chances of above normal precipitation decreasing over the same time period.
  • Habitat: Warmer rain over the next several days should allow for keeping typical winter range areas available with even some possible improvement for the near term.
  • Snow Depths: Snowpack at higher elevations in the South Cascades continues to be above average. Current snow depths at lower elevations however would not be considered unusual. 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).
  • Animal Condition: No obvious outward signs of winter stress have been reported 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 moderated with warming temperature above freezing at 3500ft. The snowpack below 3500 ft has melted to a degree with warming and periodic rains.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area has moderate levels of snow but many south facing slopes are open and available for deer.
  • Habitat: Habitat is mostly covered with snow above 2000 ft but most snowpack has melted at lower elevations.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions. Small deer herds were observed on south facing slopes in the Columbia Hills of Klickitat County below 1000 ft. Forage was available and deer looked good.
  • Animal Condition: Animals appear to be in good condition.
  • Mortality: One deer mortality observed in Klickitat County, but no others reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.

January 10, 2011

Annual midwinter waterfowl surveys.
Annual midwinter waterfowl surveys were conducted as a part of a nationwide effort, conducted in all four flyways, to estimate population trends and distribution of wintering waterfowl.

GAME DIVISION

Midwinter Waterfowl Surveys. Biologists Miller and Koberstein, with the help of volunteer Hart, conducted the annual midwinter waterfowl survey in sections of Lewis, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties this week. This survey is part of a nationwide effort, conducted in all four flyways, to estimate population trends and distribution of wintering waterfowl. For species not easily studied in their breeding areas, these surveys are the primary source of population information. Aerial surveys pick up the more populated open-water areas, while ground crews access periphery spots. This year, low temperatures caused frozen ponds in many of the ground survey areas. The most common species observed were green-winged teal, pintails, and ring-necked ducks. Mallard, widgeon, gadwall, Canada geese, and trumpeter swans were also among those surveyed.

Biologists Holman and Stephens completed the midwinter waterfowl survey from the mouth of the Washougal River upstream along the Columbia to Bonneville dam. Conditions were favorable for the survey with good access to all areas that traditionally hold signific

ant numbers of birds. At total of 2,792 waterfowl were observed during the two-day effort. Numbers of dabbling ducks and Canada geese were lower than counts for recent years, while diving ducks and swans were higher.

Biologists Anderson and volunteer Johnston completed waterfowl surveys between Bonneville and John Day Dam on the Columbia River. Many small ponds and lakes adjacent to the Columbia River were frozen with less than normal numbers of waterfowl. The Columbia River itself had large numbers of birds with this year’s totals approaching 13,000.

Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area Elk Survey. Biologists Miller and Koberstein returned to the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area for the second monthly winter elk count. An average of 367 elk was observed, with a calf to cow ratio of 36.4:100. The majority of the bulls were outside the herd composition survey area, therefore were not included in the composition estimate. Snow on the valley floor was marginal. All 17 radio signals heard were live and no mortalities were observed. Biologists will continue to monitor the Wildlife Area for elk concentrations throughout the winter.

Area 2A Goose Season: Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians continued to operate check stations in Vancouver, Woodland, and Cathlamet. So far this season, the check stations attendants have cumulatively checked 1248 geese harvested by 638 hunters, a success rate of approximately 2 geese per hunter. Ridgefield Refuge has closed for the season after the Dusky quota was reached for that zone. The Refuge will remain open for duck hunting. All other zones in Goose Management Area 2A remain open for goose hunting. Hunters are reminded that the check station hours are 10:00am to 6:00pm on hunt days.

Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Holman completed work on the annual report to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), summarizing work done related to western pond turtle management in the Columbia River Gorge area. This year various tasks were completed, including an abbreviated head-start program which resulted in collection of 41 juvenile turtles, significant habitat improvements at all four pond turtle sites, mark/re-capture population investigations, environmental education, turtle releases, etc. Highlights of the turtle program in the Gorge include documentation of reproduction at an entirely introduced population site and the release of the 1244th head-start turtle. Thanks to all those who contributed to another successful pond turtle season in the Columbia River Gorge.

Biologist Anderson submitted a Scope of Work and Budget to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for the 2011-2012 western pond turtle work in the Columbia River Gorge. Next year’s work will focus attention on improving habitat and in reducing non-native predators. This will be the 10th year of support from BPA continuing our recovery efforts for the western pond turtle in Washington.

Tundra swan on Franz Lake
Tundra swan on Franz Lake

WILDLIFE VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES

Wintering Tundra Swans: One highlight of the recently completed midwinter waterfowl survey was the location of more than 100 tundra swans in the Columbia River Gorge. Most of the birds were located at their traditional winter stronghold at Franz Lake. Additional birds were found at Beacon Rock State Park. A particular highlight was observation of a collared tundra swan that had been captured on its breeding grounds on the Alaskan Peninsula. Those interested in learning more about tundra swans and their distribution should visit the U.S. Geological Survey swan project website at http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/avian_influenza/TUSW/index.html.

 


 

January 3, 2011

GAME DIVISION

Post-Season Deer Surveys: Biologist Anderson and Holman conducted post-season deer surveys in Game Management Unit 382 (East Klickitat) and 388 (Grayback). A total of 408 deer were observed from ground surveys during the effort. An aerial survey was scheduled for the Klickitat Wildlife Area but weather conditions forced a reschedule of this effort into next week. Habitat on the Klickitat Wildlife Area was open and in good condition.

Area 2A Goose Season: Regional Wildlife Biologists and Technicians continued to operate check stations in Vancouver, Woodland, and Cathlamet. So far this season, the check station attendants have cumulatively checked 1145 geese harvested by 579 hunters, a success rate of approximately 2 geese per hunter. Ridgefield Refuge has closed for the season after the Dusky quota was reached for that zone. The refuge will remain open for duck hunting. All other zones in Goose Management Area 2A remain open for goose hunting. Hunters are reminded that the check station hours are 10:00am to 6:00pm on hunt days. Prospective goose hunters are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A.

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.
  • Short-Term Forecast: For the next week early clear and cold conditions will transition to a chance of snow ranging from 1500 to 4500 feet. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks suggest below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, which could equate to low elevation snow accumulations in January.
  • Long-Term Forecast: The January outlook is for below normal temperatures in Western Washington and has the state in the center of the zone for above normal precipitation. Lower elevation snow accumulations should be expected. NOAA’s longer term outlook maps continue to suggest colder and wetter than normal conditions through the winter.
  • Habitat: Despite early snows, typical winter range areas remain available at the present time.
  • Snow Depths: Recent snowfall has pushed the snowpack in the South Cascades above average in higher elevation areas. Current snow depths at lower elevations, however this is not considered unusual. See attached spreadsheet for detailed information (MSH_Sno-Depth-03Jan2011.pdf).
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations noted to date. The next survey on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area is scheduled for this week weather permitting. Previous surveys included 370 elk (1December 6), and 248 (1Decemebr 17).
  • 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: Warming conditions and significant rainfall were seen below 2000 ft in the South Cascades and the snow pack was reduced this week.
  • Winter Severity: The Klickitat Wildlife Area has favorable conditions as most south facing slopes are open and foraging conditions look good. Some snow is still present in areas of eastern Klickitat County above 1000 ft. Most habitat is open and available at lower elevations and winter conditions are currently favorable to deer.
  • Habitat: Habitat has opened up below 2000 ft this week on the east side and habitat conditions were favorable. With increased rainfall and freezing, snow in the South Cascades formed a crust layer that may make foraging difficult for deer and elk.
  • Animal Concentrations: No unusual concentrations seen due to inclement conditions.
  • Animal Condition: Most deer seen this week during post season surveys appeared to be in good condition, especially in the central and eastern part of Klickitat County.
  • Mortality: No winter mortalities were reported this week.
  • Public Contacts: No concerns raised by the public this week.