Southwest - Region 5
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
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excluding legal holidays

Telephone (360) 696-6211
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Southwest Washington
Wildlife Report Archives

Southwest Washington Wildlife Report Archives
November 2011

November 28


Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Anderson met with USFS fire resource staff in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to organize a burning schedule for brush piles associated with the western pond turtle habitat improvement project. Biologists Anderson and Holman have been working with USFS staff to improve upland nesting habitat for western pond turtles. Most work has been directed towards mowing of meadows and removing blackberry and Scotch broom. This summer and fall crews have treated approximately 15 acres.


Elk Season: Biologist Anderson has been responding to a very high number of phone calls regarding hunting season questions about all aspects of hunting and hunting access throughout District 9. Recent heavy snowfall has created favorable muzzleloader elk season conditions in Gorge Units 574 and 578. Several hunters with cow tags have requested information on access to USFS lands on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Elk Parts Collection: District Wildlife Biologist Miller spent parts of 3 days collecting elk organs from permit holders within the St Helens herd. This project is a cooperative effort with the University of Alberta to better understand elk body condition and pregnancy in cow elk. Parts submittal has been slow to arrive, but hopefully this season in 524 and 556 will provide a major boost to the total sample size. University of Alberta students are in the field contacting hunters and it appears this effort is paying off with a better response.

Operation Dark goose: Region 6 Biologist Michaelis recently reported hearing several of the dark goose radio collars in the vicinity of the Palix River in Pacific county. One mortality signal was detected. Biologist Michaelis will go back to see if the collar with the mortality sensor activated is still present and attempt to recover the collar. Our thanks to Region 6 folks for their help.

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 566 geese harvested by 254 hunters, a success rate of approximately 2.2 geese per hunter. Management area 2A remained free from any Dusky harvests this week, so all zones will continue to remain open for upcoming hunts. Hunters should be reminded that there is a break in the season starting today November 28th until hunting resumes on December 7th. Prospective goose hunters for the second part of the season are encouraged to review the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Pamphlet to become familiar with the season structure in Area 2A. Hunters should also be reminded that the limit for Cackler’s has been raised to three birds per bag limit for this year.

Pheasant Release: Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven released pheasants at the 3 Klickitat County sites with help from Technician White and volunteers Messenger, Wheelhouse, Niemala, and Johnson. Seventy pheasants were released on the Hatchery Unit of the Wildlife Area, 60 birds were released on the Gun Club property, and 20 were placed on the Finn Ridge Rd. site. A few hunters were present during the release on the Hatchery Unit. They waited, as requested, until the birds were distributed to begin hunting. Weather and road conditions were good with pleasant temperatures and the pheasant release went perfectly.

Private Lands/Access: Deer and Elk Season: Technician White checked hunter activity on private land access cooperator’s property in GMU 578 and 388 at the end of special permit deer, and GMU 578 on the first day of Muzzleloader Elk season. White observed 5 camps, 28 vehicles, talked with 6 hunters, and saw one cow elk taken on opening day. Weather: Rainy and Mild, highs in the mid-40s. Snow level was probably about 4000 feet or higher. Snow at 3000 feet was 3 inches deep and wet.

November 21


2012-2013 Hunting Season Proposals: Region 5 District Biologists Miller, Anderson, and Holman and Program Manager Jonker discussed recommendations for the 2012-2013 harvest season. There are no major changes to the hunting season structure with most changes made for calendar dates and permits levels for special hunts. Staff discussed several management strategy options that are being considered for cougar hunting seasons throughout the state.

SW Washington Goose season: Region 5 staff have been working hard and were fully operational for the first week of the goose hunting season. All three check stations and the Ridgefield NWR checked a total of 315 geese for 126 hunters during the five days of active hunting last week. All subspecies were recorded (with the exception of the Aleutian goose), but Cackling and Taverner’s geese were the most prevalent species seen at the stations. Unfortunately, dusky geese were also harvested out of management area 2A this past week. Four duskies were taken from zone 3 and two from zone 1 at the Ridgefield NWR. All zones remain open for hunting at this time.

Private Lands/Access: Elk Season: Technician White checked hunter activity on private cooperators’ property in GMU 578 at the end of elk season and the start of the special permit deer. Contact was made with a total of 17 hunters; 37 vehicles and 7 camps were on the three days. Two elk were taken during the last weekend of the season. Technician White cautioned hunters about one road with heavy logging traffic and suggested to hunters about hunting and camping elsewhere than this particular road. The snow level was about 3500 feet at the start of week, 1500 feet or lower at the end of week; about 6 inches at 2000 ft. and about 12 inches at 3000 ft.

November 14


Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Seasonal road closures: Four road gates were closed on November 1st to motor vehicle traffic and will remain closed until next spring; these include segments of Anderson Rd., Old Headquarters Rd., the South Breaks Rd., and the Sheep Canyon Rd. are now closed. The Sheep Canyon Rd. closure is new this year; the other seasonal closures have been in place for a few years. The new closure only affects about 1 mile of primitive road; however, it is expected to curtail offroad driving that occurs during the wet seasons that negatively impacts habitat, to slow the rate of deterioration of unimproved road, and to improve public safety by restricting access during a time when conditions are worst. Additionally, the closure should reduce problems with unauthorized vehicles accessing closed lands nearby via the WDFW road.

Pheasant Release: Several volunteers, Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven, and Technician White distributed 150 pheasants to the three pheasant release sites. Seventy birds were taken to the Goldendale Hatchery Unit, 50 went to the Gun Club property, and 30 went to the Finn Ridge Rd. site.

BLM Parcels: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven began researching parcels involved in BLM's ownership in the Klickitat River drainage in preparation for discussions regarding development of BLM's Resource Management Plan as well as a new Memorandum of Understanding regarding management of federal lands by WDFW. Most of these parcels are already covered under the exisiting MOU between the two agencies, but some are not.

Trail on the Mineral Springs Unit: Past problems in this area include erosion from excessive vehicle traffic causing mud to run directly into the Klickitat River as well as littering and garbage dumping. Efforts to restrict use to pedestrian traffic (for bank fishing) have failed, and erosion and trash has continued to accumulate despite occasional cleanup by WDFW. Garbage was again found at this site filling two trash bags, some recyclables, and an abandoned cooler was half-filled with broken glass found on site. In addition, a dead dog was discovered on the riverbank and graffiti was sprayed on a snag. In an attempt to reduce the vandalism at this site, large rocks and dirt were deposited on the trail to obstruct motor vehicle use. Dead limbs were added to the berm to improve visibility of the material. A route around the end of the berm was left open for walking access to the river.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Spears Unit: Wildlife Area staff and a local contractor spent the day repairing a leak in the Spears millpond dike. A leak had appeared about six feet below the top of the dike and just below the overflow drain pipe. An excavator removed approximately 40 yards of fill off site and a mixture of rock screenings and bentonite (7,200 pounds) were packed around the pipe to create a barrier. This is a 27-acre pond used mostly by wintering waterfowl located south of Randle.

Swofford Pond: Wildlife Area staff and a Department of Natural Resources inmate labor crew finished clearing and maintaining the 1.25-mile nature trail along Swofford Pond. The trail had become over grown along with multiple downed trees from a windstorm. The crew restored the trail back to its mineral soil base and removed the logs just in time for a weekend senior center hike by an organized group from Chehalis.

Elk taken in East Glenwood Valley.
Elk taken in East Glenwood Valley.


SW Washington Goose season: Region 5 staff were fully engaged in activities for the opening of the goose season on November 12th. New employees met for agency orientation on the 8th, completed goose check station training on the 9th (Biologist Miller was assisted by Specialist Moore for training and her help was very much appreciated), and participated in the opening day hunts on the 12th and 13th. As of Sunday afternoon SW Washington Goose Area had about 95 hunters participate and 243 geese harvested over the weekend, including 2 dusky Canada geese checked at the Vancouver station.

Biologist Miller also assisted Enforcement with an opening day patrol in the Wildlife Program boat to check hunters on the islands of the Columbia in the Ridgefield and Vancouver area. Wildlife Program staff are very appreciative of Enforcement Sergeant Wickersham and Officer Van Vladricken working the goose opener this year. Conflicts with other big game seasons have often overshadowed the goose opener in the past and it helps to have the hunters know that rule compliance is important and will be enforced during the entire season.

Elk Season: Biologist Anderson conducted hunter checks associated with the opening of elk season in the southern portion of GMU 560 and in Columbia River Gorge Units 574-578. Hunter pressure was heavy in GMU 560 with several nice bulls reported from the east side of the 24 Road. Elk harvest in GMU’s 574 and 578 has been moderate for bulls with few cow permits being filled to date. Most areas remain open in the south Cascades as there has been little snow in the higher elevations since the opening week-end. Elk are reported to be scattered with few large concentrations being seen.

Private Lands Access: Technician White checked hunter activity in private lands cooperator’s property in GMU 578 and GMU 388. Thirty three vehicles and 18 camps were noted on November 5th and 35 vehicles and 12 camps on November 10th. No elk were observed, but Technician White was informed of several elk taken east of Glenwood and north of Trout Lake. GMU 388 had very light activity. The weather was mild with a bit of snow above 3500 feet.

November 7

Photo points used to visually track changes in vegetation and other conditions taken at an elk forage enhancement plot.
Photo points used to visually track changes in vegetation and other conditions taken at an elk forage enhancement plot.
Photo points used to visually track changes in vegetation and other conditions taken at an elk forage enhancement plot.


Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Administrative Activities: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins entered cost share information into BPA’s Pisces system for Federal Fiscal Year 2011. The non-BPA contributions to management totaled approximately $34,000. The sources for this on the ground management support came from a variety of programs within WDFW and Clark Public Utilities who provides water for wetland management purposes on one of the units at no cost to the Wildlife Area.

Staff fielded a call from a waterfowl hunter who describes conflicts with at least one disabled hunter who uses a designated ADA blind on the Vancouver Lake Unit. This appears to be a continuation of a conflict that staff attempted to resolve last year by creating a disabled hunter preference area. Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald will be consulting with other agency staff to see if there is another approach that may better resolve the conflicts that have occurred.

Estuary MOA Coordination: Program Manager Jonker and Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with Habitat Program Staff to review internal progress on topics related to a potential intertidal habitat project on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. Items presented or discussed included commitments related to real estate purchases or past projects, a description of the project concept, and sideboards for project design.

Field Activities: Technician Fox repaired or installed boards in water control structures prior to start up of the water delivery systems, which will occur later this month. Technician Boylan continues to make progress on the North Basin fence and Assistant Manager Hauswald is continuing to work on pasture mowing in addition to coordinating work with the rest of the crew.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins revisited several photo points on the Wildlife Area that are used to visually track changes in vegetation or other conditions. Of particular interest is the difference between a pre-project photo and this year’s of an elk forage enhancement plot near the eastern Wildlife Area boundary.


Cackling Canada Goose Survey: Biologist Anderson surveyed the Vancouver Lowlands as part of the region-wide cackling Canada Goose survey. The goal of the cackling Canada goose mark-re-sight survey is to observe marked and unmarked cackling geese during established survey periods. Select areas of SW Washington are being surveyed including Vancouver Lowlands, Woodland Bottoms, and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The data are being used to address abundance and distribution, survival rates, and movement patterns of cackling Canada geese in Oregon and Washington.

Biologist Stephens surveyed in northern Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. Approximately 1500 cackling Canada geese were counted, 900 of which were examined for collars but no collars were observed. Biologist Stephens also surveyed the Vancouver Lowlands. Approximately 4,000 cacklers were observed, 1900 of which were examined for neck collars and 1 collar was observed. This survey was combined with the goose surveys conducted annually from November to March so all other subspecies of Canada geese were recorded in addition to cacklers. 431 Canada geese were counted during the 2-day effort which included 43 dusky Canada geese and 2 collared Taverner’s. This was the second and final survey repetition to obtain a marked to unmarked ratio of cackling Canada geese by documenting the number of collared and uncollared birds. This survey effort is in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Game, and British Columbia. The purpose is to obtain a mark/resight estimate for the total population.

Private Lands Access: Technician White checked hunter activity on Hancock Timberlands, Western Pacific Timberlands, and pheasant release sites during the week. White made contact with 2 hunters, noted 4 hunting camps, and 12 vehicles, much less activity than the previous week. There appeared to be very little elk hunting activity in GMU 388.