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
May 2011

May 31, 2011

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

HCP Review: Wildlife Area Managers Calkins and Van Leuven submitted comments on conservation measures included in the Draft Wildlife Areas Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). If adopted, the Draft HCP measures will dictate land management activities for a long period of time. Of particular interest in the Shillapoo/St. Helens Complex were agricultural and grazing measures that could significantly restrict the use of these tools to provide habitat for species that the sites were originally established to support. Also of note were measures to protect species that are currently not known to occur on these Wildlife Areas but if they did in the future, could potentially lead to significant changes in management.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Pasture Rehabilitation: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald finished replanting one of the three pasture sites scheduled for rehabilitation this year to improve waterfowl winter habitat conditions. High ground water tables and ongoing rainfall with few dry spells have made this work a challenge this year. One other site is almost ready for planting, but must first be surveyed by an archaeologist with Bonneville Power prior to completion. Preparation and planting of the third site simply had to be foregone for this spring, but we will probably attempt a fall planting at this site.

Buckmire Slough Blackberry Removal: Correctional crews contracted through the Washington Department of Natural Resources have completed removal of a large block of Himalayan Blackberry in the riparian zone associated with Buckmire Slough. This measure is the first step toward replanting this site with native riparian vegetation. The crews will also be working to remove a long narrow strip of blackberry from a fence line surrounding Bass Lake on the South Unit. The primary objective on this site is to open the line of site distance to improve use of the wetland and surrounding areas by Sandhill cranes and Canada geese.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Eagle Island Biocontrol Release: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Fisheries Biologist Roler released scotch broom bruchids on Eagle Island to control seed production. A total of 400 insects were released at two locations on the island about half of which has a heavy infestation of scotch broom, a noxious weed that competes with desirable vegetation. This island was recently acquired to protect and enhance Chinook rearing habitat. Thanks to Biologist Roler for providing the boat that was needed to accomplish this release.

Forage Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins hauled fertilizer to the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Manager Calkins set up a new pasture harrow and began harrowing one of the intensively managed forage areas. Harrowing is a method that is used to break up moss that competes with the forage plants.

GAME DIVISION

2012-14 Three-year Season Setting Process: Program Manager Jonker and Biologist Holman attended a meeting with Game Division Staff and other west-side Region staff regarding the upcoming 3-year package season setting effort. Several issues of statewide significance were discussed along with Region specific items. Opportunities for public comment will be available through the internet and at public meetings during the summer of 2011.

Black-tailed Deer Research Project: Biologists Holman, Stephens, and Koberstein continued fawn searches for the Washougal portion of the black-tail research project. Four adult does remain in GMU 568 and they are equipped with both traditional VHF radio transmitters as well as satellite transmitters, which generate a GPS location. Two fawns have been captured to date in 2011.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Streaked Horned Lark Survey: Biologists Miller and Koberstein participated in streaked horned lark surveys, led by the Nature Conservancy this week. Surveys were conducted on islands in the lower Columbia River where open, sparsely vegetated habitat is utilized by nesting larks. Larks were historically abundant in the prairies of southern Puget Sound, but are currently listed as an endangered species. Loss of prairie habitat to development and forest succession has been largely implicated in the decline of this species.

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists, Holman, Stephens, Hallock, and Koberstein completed themark re-capture population estimation effort for western pond turtles at the Bergen Road Site. The 15-day trapping sequence resulted in 214 captures comprised of 81 different individual turtles. These results are very similar to those of 2009 and 2010. Data will be summarized and forwarded to Research Division for calculation of the population estimate, which takes in to account not only captures and re-captures but size of the individual turtles, temperature, precipitation, etc.

Biologist Anderson met with Mr. Novak from the Woodland Park Zoo to discuss this year’s work in the Columbia River Gorge. The Woodland Park Zoo has hired Novak to work on the western pond turtle project in cooperation with WDFW’s recovery efforts. The primary focus of their work will be locating nest sites and recovering hatchlings for head start program at the Woodland Park and Oregon Zoos. To date, a total of 28 hatchlings from wild nests have been captured in the spring effort. Additionally, Novak’s efforts will be focused on bullfrog control, including egg mass and adult removal.

May 23, 2011

Well on the Soda Springs unit checked to determine if it needed to be decommissioned to meet state law.
Well on the Soda Springs unit checked to determine if it needed to be decommissioned to meet state law.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Forage and Roads: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins fertilized four of the intensive forage management areas near the 3100 road entrance to the Wildlife Area. One of the sites, which was rehabilitated in 2009, is filling in nicely but will need to be harrowed to break up moss that competes with the grasses and forbs we are targeting. Calkins also spent time working on filling the huge pothole just south of the Bear Creek Bridge; this will need more work as time allows.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Mourning Dove Survey: Manager Van Leuven conducted the annual mourning dove survey on May 20. Only one dove was heard and none were seen.

Wells: Manager Van Leuven met with Ward of WDFW Engineering to check two wells to determine if they need to be decommissioned to meet state law. One well north of Zelinski Road was quickly located in Field 11 of the agricultural lease on the Soda Springs Unit. The other "well" turned out to be a large diameter pipe surrounding a below-ground valve on the Sondino Unit.

Soda Springs Unit: Manager Van Leuven dismantled 5 fire pits on the Soda Springs Unit with volunteer help. Rocks from fire rings as well as trash were collected and the ground raked to remove most of the traces of fire and restore a natural appearance.

GAME DIVISION

Black-tailed Deer Research Project: Biologists Holman and Koberstein initiated fawn searches for the Washougal portion of the black-tail research project. Four adult does remain in GMU 568 and they are equipped with both traditional VHF radio transmitters as well as satellite transmitters, which generate a GPS location. No fawns have been captured in 2011.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson conducted a coordinated crane nesting survey with staff from the Conboy National Wildlife Refuge. Three pairs of cranes were found to have colts (juveniles) that have hatched out within the past week. Approximately ¾ of the crane pairs on and off refuge have been located to date with some reported nesting failures. It’s not uncommon for sandhill cranes to re-nest after early season failures.

Ferruginous Hawks: Biologist Anderson located the Juniper Canyon ferruginous hawk nest in eastern Klickitat County. Both adults were located at the nest site and appear to either still be incubating eggs or to have recently hatched young. Follow-up surveys will be conducted in the next tow week to verify. This is the only currently know active ferruginous hawk nest site in Klickitat County and the nest site is located within a proposed wind farm.

Western Pond Turtle Management: Themark, re-capture population estimation for western pond turtles continues at the Bergen Road Site. Biologists, Holman, Stephens, Hallock, and Koberstein have participated in the effort. Through the initial 8 days of trapping, 121 captures have been recorded, comprised of 59 different individual turtles.

May 16, 2011

Western Tanagers Western Tanagers
Western Tanagers
Kingbird Yellow Warbler
Kingbird Yellow Warbler

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Watchable Wildlife: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald noticed an increase in migratory songbirds on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area this past week. One morning he observed a few hundred Western Tanagers in the riparian areas in the North and South units. Also seen this past week were Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Kingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Purple Martins to name a few of the many species of songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl that can now be seen on the Wildlife Area.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Columbia Hills State Park Grazing Project: Manager Van Leuven attended a public meeting regarding an experimental grazing project at Columbia Hills State Park. Grazing by cattle during the dormant season (fall) is being used to restore the native plant community in an area that was converted to nonnative grass during the early 1990s. The program is designed to reduce the vigor of the grass and remove the thatch of dead plant material, thereby allowing the native plant seeds to grow in an environment of reduced competition in spring. Despite numerous logistical problems, one season of grazing has produced readily discernible results with minimal negative impacts. This is an interesting project that shows how a carefully planned grazing program can achieve good results in habitat restoration.

2009 Western Pond Turtle Trap Locations

2009 Western Pond Turtle Trap Locations
Bergen Road Site
Click image for enlargement

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Golden Eagles: Biologist Anderson conducted surveys at two golden eagle nest sites in the Columbia River Gorge. One site was unoccupied and the other site had one hatchling that was approximately one week old.

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson conducted a site visit to a new peregrine falcon nest site on DNR land in the White Salmon River drainage. The new site was reported by a local landowner and verified this week with a follow-up survey.

Waterbird Surveys: Biologist Anderson reviewed protocol and historic maps of locations for waterbirds surveys to be conducted in District 9 this season. Most of the sites to be surveyed this year will be great blue heron rookeries. The USFS has agreed to help with some of these surveys as the nest sites are found on their land.

Western Pond Turtle Management - Mark / Re-Capture Population Estimation: Biologists Holman and Stephens initiated trapping of western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site. Thirty-four traps have been placed in 4 water bodies and will be checked daily for approximately 14 days. The effort is similar to those undertaken in 2009 and 2010. Estimations of the population at the site during those years were 103 and 107 individuals respectively. See the figure illustrating the location of the traps deployed to facilitate this estimate of the turtle population at this site.

 

May 9, 2011

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Glacier lily
Glacier lily; KWA
Shooting stars; Klictitat Wildlife Area
Shooting stars; KWA
Volunteer surveying elk winter mortality.
Volunteer surveying elk winter mortality.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Tacoma Power Open House: Wildlife Area staff maintained a booth during Tacoma Power’s annual open house located at Mossyrock Park. This event allows the public to tour the inside of Tacoma Power’s Mossyrock hydroelectric dam and powerhouse with a final stop for a barbeque lunch and educational booths at Mossyrock Park.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Road Grading: Manager Van Leuven met with the WDFW road grading crew to discuss the grading needs on the Klickitat Wildlife Area for this spring. This week they inspected the roads, graded the Grayback and Sheep Canyon Roads, added rock and graded the North Breaks Road, and graded the access road into the Stinson Flats Campground. They will return next week to finish grading the other Access Site roads and the KWA roads that need it.

Units: Manager Van Leuven inspected several projects on various Units including progress of the Klickitat PUD power line upgrade on the Fisher Hill Unit. From a viewpoint on the Centerville Highway, the project appears to be going well and within the conditions of the Right of Entry permit that was issued for this project. This whole area burned over last August, but spring growth of grasses and forbs has masked the effects of the fire.

Manager Van Leuven inspected the Stinson Flat Campground - the campground was left clean after last weekend's large gathering of about 50 people for May Day. While replacing signs, picking up litter, and talking to visitors on the Soda Springs and Mineral Springs Units, Manager Van Leuven observed glacier lilies and shooting stars blooming on the Soda Springs Unit.

GAME DIVISION

Mount St. Helens Elk Winter Mortality Survey: WDFW staff and 21 volunteers, mostly from the Rocky Mt Elk Foundation, surveyed the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area for elk mortalities due to winter stress. This annual survey is an index to winter conditions on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area and may have broad implications on the elk herd as a whole. The total number of mortalities on the Wildlife Area from this winter was 29 (MortalitySurveyLocations-2011.jpg). Mortalities varied among age classes, with adults representing 45% (13) of total, yearlings 7% (2), calves 21% (6), and 27% (8) were of unknown age. Females represented 62% (18) of carcasses found; males 24% (7), and 14% (4) were of unknown sex. There were an equal number (6) of adult females and adult males found. Results suggest calf recruitment was impacted by winter conditions, but probably not severely.

Conditions in the Mt. St. Helens region were cold and wet during late fall, but fairly dry during the early part of winter, with the snowpack within 10% of average conditions. However, March brought cold weather and high snowfall, increasing the snowpack to roughly 100-200% of the average. Elk concentrations on the mudflow during winter months can signify winter snow impacts on forage availability in elevations above the valley. In years of most severe winter conditions, approximately 800 elk have been observed on the Wildlife Area. The highest winter counts for this year were 368 elk recorded in December 2010 and 367 in January 2011. Concentrations fluctuated throughout the remaining winter and spring; between February and May the count ranged from 46 (May) to 206 (April). This year’s winter losses are less than 10 % of the maximum count which is considered normal for the herd and location.

Thank you to all the volunteers and WDFW staff who helped on this survey.


Elk mortality survey Elk mortality survey

Mount St. Helens Elk Winter Mortality Survey
Click image for enlargement

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Elk Count: Biologist Koberstein conducted the last winter monthly elk count on the Wildlife Area this week. A total of 46 elk were observed. The majority of elk were found south of the Toutle River, on the west end of the Wildlife Area. Mild conditions provided favorable visibility for conducting the count. As with last month’s count, no herd composition information was gathered, as bulls have begun shedding their antlers. A mortality survey was conducted on the mudflow earlier this week.

3-Year Package: District Biologists reviewed District 9 and 10 big game hunting season proposals for the next three year cycle. Over the past 4 years, significant changes have been made in game management unit boundaries and elk season strategies. For the upcoming 3 year cycle, the Districts will review season structures and consider ideas presented by the hunting public.

May 2, 2011

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Swale Creek beside a trestle that is part of the Klickitat Trail on the parcel that is for sale.
Swale Creek beside a trestle that is part of the Klickitat Trail on the parcel that is for sale.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Campground Emphasis: Manager Van Leuven assisted WDFW Enforcement staff in setting up an emphasis patrol of the Wildlife Area (primarily Stinson Flats Campground) this weekend. This included preparing and posting signs as well as on-site visits to campgrounds with Sergeant Grant to meet with campers there, and discuss why permits are needed as well as safety concerns.

Swale Creek Unit: Manager Van Leuven met with Rich Davis of Washington State Parks on a site adjacent to the Swale Creek Unit that is for sale to evaluate the value of the property for public benefit. State Parks and the Klickitat Trail Conservancy both support WDFW in potentially acquiring the property. Manager Van Leuven checked the ecological condition of the site, inspecting fences, documenting species present and any other features relevant to WDFW interests (e.g., plants, streams and vernal pools, evidence of animal use, and existing trailhead facilities). The attached photo at right shows Swale Creek beside a trestle that is part of the Klickitat Trail on the parcel that is for sale.

GAME DIVISION

Dark Goose Project: The nest survey for the lower Columbia River was recently completed. This, the 26th year of this survey, was conducted by a multi agency effort including WDFW, Oregon Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and many volunteers. The survey area was from Eureka Bar to Rice Island in the LCR. The survey contributes to Pacific Flyway data collection for resident geese and documentation of dark goose nesting. The latter relates to geese that resemble the Dusky subspecies but nest locally and do not migrate to the lower Columbia/Willapa Bay areas. Overall nest numbers indicate a fairly stable population recently, but declines in long term trends.

Dark goose nests were plotted with GPS to facilitate re-visiting the nests to verify incubation status.
Dark goose nests were plotted with GPS to facilitate re-visiting the nests to verify incubation status.

Dark nests were plotted with GPS to facilitate re-visiting the nests to verify incubation status. Biologists Miller and Koberstein, with the assistance of volunteers Jarvis and Howell, rechecked all the nests thought to be dark upon initial examination to verify dark birds present and confirm nest status. We also found additional dark nests that were not found during the initial survey, possibly late nesting birds. During this visit we documented 4 radio collar signals on nesting females and found 1 collar in the water emitting a mortality pulse. The mort collar had not been heard since last summer. We will continue to monitor the nesting females and their broods to aid in selecting dates for banding this summer. This project is focused on marking these birds to reduce confusion at goose hunter check stations and help identify dark resident birds during winter Dusky surveys. Our thanks to all who assisted in this project effort.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Assistance to Habitat Program -Western Grey Squirrel Management: Regional Wildlife Biologists continued work on multiple Forest Practices Applications with serious implications for State Threatened western grey squirrels. Several tasks including review of proposed activities, on-site searches for and mapping of squirrel nests, negotiations with landowners, selection of retention trees, GIS support, and general coordination are all encompassed in this effort. All sites are in the core of the species' range in Washington (Klickitat River Basin) and are occupied by squirrels. In one site, Biologists identified over 150 nests in less than 100 acres of forest. Similarly, an 80-acre parcel contained over 120 nests.

Sandhill Crane Nesting Survey: Biologists Anderson and Stephens conducted a coordinated sandhill crane nesting survey with the USFWS for Conboy National Wildlife Refuge. Approximately 20 pairs of cranes were located on territory during the two day survey. Twelve pairs have initiated nesting with one failure reported to date. Water levels and habitat conditions are favorable due to abundant spring rains and snow melt.

Streaked Horn Lark Survey: Biologists Miller and Koberstein assisted The Nature Conservancy (TNC) with surveys of dredge material islands in the lower Columbia for the Streaked Horn Lark. TNC and WDFW have a long term history of cooperating on these surveys to document use on islands that are used as dredge spoil sites by COE and Port of Portland.