Southwest - Region 5
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
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excluding legal holidays

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Southwest Washington
Wildlife Report Archives

Southwest Washington Wildlife Report Archives
July 2011

July 25, 2011


Klickitat Wildlife Area:
KWA Citizen Advisory Group Tour: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven planned and conducted a tour for the Klickitat Wildlife Area Citizen Advisory Group. The group visited locations on the Wildlife Area where WDFW has invested time and other resources in improvements to public assets, better public safety, and maintenance or improvement of existing habitat resources. The group found the tour informative and requested another field trip next year.


Band-Tailed Pigeon Population Monitoring: Biologist Holman conducted the band-tail mineral site surveys at the Kalama River and Cedar Creek locations. A record high of 368 arriving pigeons visited the Kalama River location, exceeding the 8-year mean of 241. A record low of only 30 pigeons visited the Cedar Creek mineral site where the 11-year average is 182 arrivals. Mineral site surveys are organized through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are a cooperative effort conducted by Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. Data generated from these surveys is compiled by USFWS and used to design appropriate hunting seasons for band-tailed pigeons.

Deer and Elk Section Manager Nelson District 9 Visit: Section Manager Nelson joined Regional Wildlife Program Manager Jonker and Biologists Anderson and Holman on a field visit to many locations in District 9. The majority of the trip was conducted in Klickitat County and featured an opportunity to discuss and view many topics relevant to the area including deer and elk management strategies, survey methods, harvest trends, habitat impacts and opportunities, migrations, etc. Thanks to Section Manager Nelson for visiting the Region and spending time on the ground in District 9.

Dark Geese: District Wildlife Biologist Miller checked on the status of the recently captured dark geese in the vicinity of Miller Sands Island. Nine of 11 radio collars were heard with live signals for all. One of the birds that was not heard has a radio collar that is expected to go off the air this summer/fall. The typical movement pattern is for these birds to stay in the Lower Columbia River until late August and then move to Pacific county for the winter. We will continue to check on the birds through the winter, mostly via the efforts of our volunteer-Bob Jarvis.

WDFW biologist and volunteers release Western pond turtles at Beacon Rock State Park.
WDFW biologist and volunteers release Western pond turtles at Beacon Rock State Park.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson, Stephens, and Holman joined staff from Washington State Parks and the Bonneville Power Administration to release western pond turtles at Beacon Rock State Park. This is the 5th year that juvenile pond turtles associated with the Head-Start program have been released at the Park. This year 20 turtles were introduced, making a total of 147 over 5-years at this location. Additionally, 11 juvenile turtles were released into the Bergen population.

Streaked Horn Lark surveys: District Wildlife Biologist Miller assisted a crew from USFWS, TNC, and WDFW employees with the final survey for larks on the Columbia River islands from Kalama to Rice Island. Larks were observed on 8 of 9 islands with Brown Island having the highest number. Streaked horn larks are a prairie species that seems to do well on dredge material islands with sparse vegetation.


MOCC: Biologist Miller spent a day with Biologist Milner preparing her to join the Boat Safety instructor crew. Milner has lots of experience in Puget Sound waters and will be ready to become an instructor as soon as she is exposed to other types of vessels and the required curricula for the class.

July 18, 2011


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Tree Planting Maintenance: Habitat Technician Boylan who was rehired this week began work on locating tree seedlings and clearing around them in the Reiger Oak habitat planting site. The work has been difficult due in part to the exceptional growth of grasses with the past wet spring as well as tall weeds. Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald also sprayed blackberry in the McBride Oak habitat site.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Weed Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins continued spraying scotch broom near the eastern boundary of the Wildlife Area. The focus has been on scattered plants missed during prior years’ control efforts. Other weeds were treated, including Himalayan and Evergreen blackberry and Tansy ragwort.

Eagle Island Unit Construction Access Coordination: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with Rudy Salakory of the Cowlitz Tribe, their contractors, and the two landowners who own property along the access road leading to the mainland part of the Eagle Island Unit. All wanted to make sure that the landowners were aware of the types of traffic and potential impacts the upcoming fisheries enhancement project may have. The landowners both seemed supportive and one even offered to take down a tree on a tight corner. In addition to heavy equipment, over 200 logs will be transported to the site some of which will be 60 feet in length.

Oneida Unit: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Westside Lands Supervisor Warren, and Program Manager Jonker met with Estuary MOA staff from the Habitat program regarding an interest in an intertidal habitat restoration project. The potential project relies to a great extent on acquisition of additional lands before it would be feasible and ensuring that long term access site needs are accounted for at the boat launch.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Weed Management: Wildlife Area staff applied herbicide to 13 miles of roadside on the Peterman Hill Unit. Logging roads on this unit need to be sprayed once a year to keep encroaching grasses and weeds from damaging the roadbed. Staff also sprayed and hand pulled Scotch-broom on 8 acres of the Spears and Trout Hatchery Units.

Biologists placed a motion sensing camera at a mineral spring site to monitor for pigeons.
Biologists placed a motion sensing camera at a mineral spring site to monitor for pigeons.


Pigeon Spring survey. District Wildlife Biologist Miller and volunteer Howell placed a motion sensing camera at a mineral spring site along the Green River in Cowlitz County. The site is on a list of potential Band tailed Pigeon survey locations, but it is unknown the amount of pigeon use it receives. Due to staffing issues, regional staff were not able to survey this location so a camera was installed to check use to evaluate future survey efforts. Pigeons were observed in the vicinity as the camera was set up, allowing a good test of the camera’s effectiveness in documenting pigeon use.

U.S. Forest Service Elk Habitat Enhancement: Biologist Holman represented WDFW on an ID team visiting a proposed site of habitat enhancement on Forest Service land near Stabler in Game Management Unit 572 (Siouxon). An approximately 50 acre field formerly used for tree propagation is available for elk habitat improvements including burning, weed control, and fence removal. A Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation grant has been awarded to the USFS to facilitate these activities. However, various buffers around research plots, buildings, and riparian areas limit the scope of enhancements that will be possible.


Western Pond Turtle: Biologist Anderson met with WA Deptartment of Transportation (WDOT) and WA State Parks staff to discuss a habitat mitigation project at Beacon Rock State Park (BRSP). WDOT is required to mitigate for the loss of oak and wetland habitat as part of a highway improvement project in the Columbia River Gorge. Western Pond Turtle habitat at BRSP will be enhanced as mitigation with the creation of additional wetland and upland nesting habitat for western pond turtles.

Biologist Holman along with volunteers Kate and Frank Slavens marked this year’s cohort of juvenile western pond turtles in preparation for release. The turtles are all notched with individual numbers for later identification in the field. The notching took place at the Oregon Zoo in Portland where the turtles have been raised since last fall. This year, a total of 41 individuals will be released back into 3 of the 4 pond turtle populations in the Columbia River Gorge.

Wolf Presentation: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker gave a presentation on a status update of wolves in Washington to the Yacolt Burn Sportsman Club. The Club members are very interested in the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and what that means for Washington residents; there was an animated discussion with many questions.

Double Crested Cormorant Management Meeting: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker participated in the monthly interagency meeting regarding the development of the Double Crested Cormorant Management Plan for the Columbia River Estuary. The Settlement Agreement for Caspian Terns implies that an EIS will be prepared for Double Crested Cormorants (DCCO) prior to any management action. Representatives from multiple entities (USFWS, USACE, BPA, OSU/USGS, NMFS, CRITFC, ODFW, WDFW, and Real Time Research) are working together to address this complex issue of DCCO impact on listed fish in the Columbia River.

July 11, 2011


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Field Operations and Maintenance: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins replaced fence boards at one of the entrance points along the Rieger Highway and trimmed grass around a reader board. The boards had been stolen recently. Assistant Manager Hauswald worked on mowing waterfowl pastures in the North Unit with about 70 acres completed. He also found the first flowering purple loosestrife plants of the season and began control efforts for the season.

Administrative Tasks: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins sent a notice to proceed to Applied Archaeological Research for them to begin work on the first phase of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area Historic Properties Management Plan. Calkins also worked on completing the hiring of a summer temporary employee that we hope will begin work next week.

Weed Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins completed a broadleaf weed monitoring transect in the East McBride Pasture. This is one of the permanent transects that was established last year to be visited on an annual basis. A portion of this site was treated for weed control last year and weed prevalence had declined. The most common weed encountered was Canada thistle in 36% of the 1m diameter plots. Other weeds noted included bull thistle, tansy ragwort, Tiesel, and Himalayan Blackberry.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Weed Control: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins treated three stands of Yellow hawkweed and one stand of Mouse ear hawkweed in the eastern portion of the Wildlife Area. Calkins also treated scotch broom in the same vicinity between the mudflow road and Bear Creek. Last week’s treatment areas were also visited and the efficacy appeared to be good.

WDFW staff and volunteers installing neck and radio collars to captured geese.
WDFW staff determining sex and age of captured goose.
WDFW staff assisting the Goose Capture and Survey project.
Lower Columbia River
Goose Capture


Goose Capture Lower Columbia River: This week resident geese that resemble the Dusky subspecies were captured in the lower Columbia River. We are fortunate to have a dedicated crew of volunteers (including former OSU professor Bob Jarvis) and participation from ODFW, OSP, and USFWS in this effort. The goal is to capture and mark as many of these birds as possible to aid in population surveys and check station operations for fall hunting seasons. We use a helicopter from Hillsboro Aviation and skilled pilot Franz Bergtold who has done this project many times and is very good at coaxing the flightless birds into the trap. Our catch this year was approximately 100 birds and we installed neck collars and a few radio collars to help us track the birds and find them next year during nesting and banding surveys. Our thanks to Assistant Director Pamplin, Waterfowl Program staff, as well as Biologists from Region 4, 5, and 6 to help this project go smoothly.

2011-12 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons. Biologist Holman reviewed the Draft 2011-12 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons. The most significant change to waterfowl season that is currently being proposed is an increase in the daily limit on cackling Canada geese from 2 to 4.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson, Hallock, Stephens, and Holman continued monitoring the radio-equipped female western pond turtles at the Pierce Refuge Site. The four individuals are being checked each afternoon-evening for nesting activity. While no pond turtle nests have been located to date, two painted turtles involved in nest establishment were observed by Biologist Stephens. Monitoring will continue through mid July.

Flamulated Owls: Biologist Anderson completed the third protocol survey for the east side flamulated owl project. One flamualted owl was detected on the survey route on a tributary of the Klickitat River.

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson conducted a late season nest survey at Beacon Rock State Park to verify peregrine falcon nesting as part of the WDFW/State Parks management plan for managing technical rock climbing. Two juvenile peregrines have fledged from the nest site on the south face of Beacon Rock and it will be open to technical rock climbing after July 15th.

July 5, 2011


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Contract: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins completed the submission of the draft Statement of Work to Bonneville Power for FY12. Assistant Manager Hauswald contributed to its completion by tackling some of the work elements, reviewing the line item budget, and updating the inventory of equipment that is used on the wildlife area under BPA funding. Through their Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Program, Bonneville Power funds almost all of our operation and enhancement activities on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area.

Mowing Season: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald began mowing pasture areas, which will continue for the next few months. As we have done traditionally at the beginning of July, the effort began in areas adjacent to roads and parking areas where fire danger due to unlawful use of fires or fireworks is higher.

Administrative: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins reviewed the two bids received for the first phase of an Historic Properties Management Plan (HPMP) with assistance from Bonneville Power archaeologist staff. We anticipate issuing a notice to proceed within the next week. The HPMP will help to identify potential areas of affect for planned activities and where additional work or modifications may be necessary in some of our planned future work.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Forage Management: Volunteer Braaten fertilized and harrowed parts of the Lower Bear Creek forage enhancement site and concluded these types of treatments until fall. In total this year with Mr. Braaten’s help, we have covered well over 100 acres with fertilizer and harrowing treatments. The enhancement areas are all beginning to noticeably increase in forage production.

Weed Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins treated Mouse ear hawkweed along the eastern boundary of the Wildlife Area. We had thought that this site had been treated by crews working for the USFS, but apparently there must have been some miscommunication as we noted that scotch broom in the site had been treated but the hawkweed wasn’t. Calkins also treated the diffuse knapweed infestation by the Bear Creek bridge and was unable to locate any spotted knapweed at the site where we have found it in the past.


Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson, Hallock, Stephens, and Holman concluded the trapping phase of western pond turtle monitoring at the Pierce National Wildlife Refuge site. Traps were set in the Refuge for 17 days and produced 85 turtle captures comprised of 39 individual turtles. More importantly, 4 female turtles of suitable age and size (500+ grams) were captured during the effort. These females have been outfitted with radio transmitters and are being monitored for nesting activity.

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson conducted a helicopter nesting survey for sandhill cranes. This flight was a follow-up to 2 months of periodic ground surveys at Conboy National Wildlife Refuge and other select state and private land ownerships that have crane use. In addition to those now sites, two suitable wetland complexes on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest were surveyed for potential nesting.

Follow-up ground surveys will be conducted in the next month for juvenile (colt) production and banding. To date nesting success has been good as water conditions have been favorable for crane reproduction.

Flamulated Owls: Biologist Anderson is currently conducting protocol flamulated owl surveys in Klickitat County as part of the WDFW/Partners in Flight effort. Two of the three replicate surveys have been completed with one flamulated owl detection to date. This particular owl is unique as it is highly migratory and winters in Mexico and parts of Latin America.