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Guy Norman

Regional Director

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Southwest Washington
Wildlife Report Archives

Southwest Washington Wildlife Report Archives
October 2011

October 31

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Modern Firearm Deer Season: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven visited with hunters at the office and in the field and checked one 3X3 point buck at the Canyon Creek Campground. Hunters are appreciative of the time Van Leuven is taking to talk with them and check on things in the field. Although the general modern firearm season for deer produced the lowest harvest in recent years, hunters were fairly philosophical about the season and indicated that they would be back again next year. Most people enjoyed the camping experience at the KWA. Manager Van Leuven gained some information on a couple of problems on the Wildlife Area, heard interesting and entertaining stories about events in the field, and even got to see some watercolor paintings done on heavyweight paper plates by a talented person passing time in camp.

Sheep Canyon Road: With the new gate in place, manager Van Leuven constructed new sign posts on the Sheep Canyon Road to post two signs: "Gate Ahead" and "Seasonal Road Closure" with the time frame on it.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Annual Report: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins finished compiling and editing the Annual Report to Bonneville Power for Federal Fiscal Year 2011. The report contains information on all aspects of Habitat management on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area and will eventually be available to the public on-line through BPA’s Pisces system.

Field Activities: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald and Technician Boylan finished installation of the last wood posts for the “North Basin” fence. The project is approximately 70% complete and should be finalized in two to three weeks. Hauswald continues to work toward finishing up pasture mowing for the season and disked portions of three wetland basins to control reed canary grass.

Archaeological Site Disturbance: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald noted for the second time this year minor digging activity at archaeological sites. WDFW staff have reached out to archaeologists at BPA for advice on how best to try to address the situation and if there are any federal law enforcement entities that may be able to help with investigation.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
RMAP: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins submitted annual road management and abandonment plan updates to DNR for the Hoffstadt and Nellie Corser Units. Of note in the reports was repair of a water bar at Nellie Corser and a potential slump on one of the Hoffstadt Unit roads north of the sediment retention area. Calkins also made a site visit to the Oneida Unit to look at forest roads that may be on the property. One of these roads is basically gone from the landscape and the other Calkins checked on is probably not on WDFW property.

Acquisition efforts and Lands 20/20: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins edited and submitted lands 20/20 review documents for acquisition projects WDFW hopes to pursue on Merrill Lake and along SR 504. Calkins also made contact with some of the potentially key partners in the Merrill Lake project.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Peterman Hill Unit - Hunting Participation: Hunting participation on Peterman Hill Unit is usually rather intense during modern firearm season and with the closing of much of the surrounding private lands to motor vehicles, staff were expecting to see at least as much of the same. However, pressure has been very light. A day spent on the hill this week revealed no camps and only two vehicles. A brief conversation with the two of the hunters revealed that one of the hunters had harvested a 2x3 buck earlier in the season and that hunting pressure has been light all season. To quote the hunter: “there haven’t been enough hunters on the hill to even get the animals moving”.

Glock of small Canada geese.
The small Canada geese are of particular management concern because they are used extensively for subsistence by the native peoples of western Alaska, provide recreational hunting in Washington, Oregon and California but also cause extensive damage to agricultural crops.

GAME DIVISION

Cackling Canada Goose Population Estimate: In cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Game, as well as British Columbia, Region 5 Wildlife Biologists conducted surveys for cackling Canada geese. The survey involves locating flocks of cacklers and examining the birds for neck collars. Twelve-hundred cackling Canada geese were captured and marked on their breeding grounds in western Alaska’s Yukon/Kuskokwim National Wildlife Refuge during the summer of 2011. The survey protocol involves two repetitions of the effort and will generate a mark/re-sight estimate for the total population of cackling Canada geese. The small Canada geese are of particular management concern because they are used extensively for subsistence by the native peoples of western Alaska, provide recreational hunting in Washington, Oregon and California but also cause extensive damage to agricultural crops. Biologist Holman encountered in excess of 12,700 of the birds during two days of surveying in the Vancouver Lowlands and Woodland Bottoms. Approximately 3,200 of the birds were examined for collars per the survey method with 12 collared individuals documented. Biologists Miller and Stephens conducted the cackler re-sight survey in northern Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. with 1 neck collar observed in the Gray’s River area.

Private Lands Access:
General Deer Season: Technician White visited private timberland ownerships enrolled in the feel free to hunt program and pheasant release sites. White inventoried hunter camps, explained the private lands program, and encouraged respectful use of private property. Contact was made with 41 hunters, counted 87 vehicles and 27 camps. White did not see any harvested deer but heard 3-4 reports of deer taken. Hunters commented that there were fewer deer than in previous years.

St. Helens Land Access Program: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Biologist Stephens, and Technician Pyzik conducted a volunteer orientation in Longview for individuals interested in helping with this program to facilitate additional weekday motorized access on the Weyerhaeuser St Helens tree farm during special elk permit seasons. The orientation is mandatory for those who are interested in volunteering with this program.

October 24

Mr. Frick, of Buckley, found a single antler which might point to the presence of whitetail deer on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
Mr. Frick, of Buckley, found a single antler which might point to the presence of whitetail deer on the Klickitat Wildlife Area.
WDFW staff and volunteers worked to release pheasants on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.
WDFW staff and volunteers worked to release pheasants on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit.
A mudhole was filled on the South Breaks Road.
A mudhole was filled on the South Breaks Road.
Illegal ATV trail closure.
Illegal ATV trail closure.
An illegal ATV trail was closed using a mass of woody materail
Wetland enhancement project
Biologist Anderson met with Pierce National Wildlife Refuge staff Chmielewski and Clapp to discuss a wetland enhancement project for western pond turtles.
\Western pond turtle recovery project
A local cooperator with Beacon Rock State Park was hired to mow adjacent upland habitat as part of the western pond turtle recovery project.
Continued habitat improvement efforts for western pond turtle habitat.
Continued habitat improvement efforts for western pond turtle habitat.
WDFW staff met with DNR work crews to provide oversight for continued habitat improvement efforts for western pond turtle habitat.
Repaired sign om Hwy 97
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A thinned oak / pine forest developed for habitat enhancement on the Bergen Road site.
WDFW staff met with DNR Natural Areas staff to discuss habitat management activities at the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve (NAP).
WDFW staff met with DNR Natural Areas staff to discuss habitat management activities at the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve (NAP).

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Modern Firearm Deer Season Hunter Success Survey: The second weekend was less productive in terms of deer harvested than the first. On Saturday, Manager Van Leuven contacted 86 hunters with only 3 deer taken. These were 2 does from the High Prairie area and 1 3X3 buck from private property near the Little Klickitat River. One of the does was an adult, and the other appeared to be a yearling; however it couldn't be confirmed due to rigor mortis preventing a good view of the teeth. On Sunday, Van Leuven visited with 73 hunters with no deer harvested. Weather was summerlike and pleasant for camping, but not conducive to deer movement.

Whitetail Deer Presence on the Klickitat Wildlife Area: Manager Van Leuven received reports from two different hunters that seem to point to presence of whitetail deer, although neither report is conclusive. The first was from an experienced hunter who was working a shrubby patch. He saw two deer move away, one of which was a blacktail. He only saw the hindquarters of the other deer, which had raised its tail and was waving it back and forth as it ducked into the undergrowth. The second possible occurrence was the discovery of a whitetail deer antler far out in a field west of the Sheep Canyon Road. Mr. Frick, of Buckley, found a single antler, which he picked up. It is possible that it might have been dropped by someone, but odds of that seem remote. Retired Wildlife Area manager Dan Morrison confirmed the identification of a dead whitetail deer found in a yard in Goldendale last winter, so at least one occurrence is known from this area.

Pheasant Release: Manager Van Leuven worked with biologist Stephens and Technician White along with master hunter volunteer Randall to release pheasants onto three sites October 21st. Randall and Van Leuven released 80 birds on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit. Stephens and White released 40 on the Gun Club property and 30 on the Finn Ridge Rd. property . The birds looked healthy and well feathered. One WDFW employee was at the Hatchery Unit on opening day and said that quite a few people hunted there on the 21st, as was anticipated.

Mudhole Repair: Manager Van Leuven worked with a volunteer to haul dirt and rock fill material to a bad spot in the South Breaks Road and spread it out. Van Leuven has almost been stuck in a persistent mud puddle that develops there each year. Van Leuven used fill material that was deposited near the Klickitat Wildlife Area office during a ditch cleaning job performed by the county road crew last summer. Van Leuven was able to load, haul, and get the fill graded using only KWA equipment and some volunteer help.

Illegal ATV Trail Closure: During opening weekend of modern firearm deer season, several hunters reported that people on 4-wheel ATVs were riding in areas posted as closed to motor vehicles as well as off-road through the forest on the Soda Springs Unit, without wearing hunter orange or awareness of disruption to other deer hunt activities. Manager Van Leuven followed a well-defined trail about 1.3 miles back into a closed area to where it crossed onto a neighboring property. After researching the location of the property line, Van Leuven worked with a volunteer who used the KWA Caterpillar tractor to block the trail close to the property line. A mass of dead woody material was pushed into the trail, and a series of earth berms were constructed to close the network of trails nearby. Van Leuven placed fluorescent flagging on the first, second, and third closure points. Van Leuven plans to draft a letter to the landowner outlining WDFW's expectations regarding the use of this trail (the landowner is usually absent from the property and was not available for contact when the closure was implemented on the WDFW side of the property line).

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Duck Hunting Under Way: The early portion of the duck season seems to be going pretty well on the Wildlife Area for hunters contacted so far. This may be due to the extremely wet spring and early summer, which has left water in places not ordinarily seen this early in the season. Levels in the Columbia River and Vancouver Lake are also a little higher and more favorable. Staff have heard success stories beginning with the youth season, but part of the evidence of good harvest rates was unfortunately a pile of about 20 breasted out carcasses left at one of the access points that needed to be cleaned up.

Watchable Wildlife: Sandhill Cranes are still easy to find and see in fields on the Wildlife Area and vicinity. Snow geese, which have been observed on a much more regular basis in the past few years, are also back. One flock of at least 200 snows was seen recently.

Media Contact: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins spoke with Terry Otto an independent journalist who is working on a story for Northwest Sportsman on goose hunting in Clark County. Calkins provided information on harvest, Wildlife Area access, and other opportunities in the area.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Oregon Field Guide Story: Over a period of about 12 months, Region 5 Wildlife Program Staff and Deer and Elk Specialist McCorquodale worked with Vince Patton of Oregon Public Broadcasting on a story about elk around Mt. St. Helens. The piece aired for the first time recently and a link has been embedded on WDFW’s webpage under Game Management.

National Volcanic Monument Stakeholder Meeting: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Program Manager Jonker attended the USFS sponsored stakeholder meeting in Vancouver. Included in the meeting was an overview of recent projects and the new strategic funding plan for the monument. Part of the meeting included breakout sessions giving those in attendance an opportunity to provide input on topics ranging from science to recreation. Opportunities for WDFW and USFS to work together on interpretive projects were noted several times during the meeting.

GAME DIVISION

Private Lands Access: Technician White conducted field checks of hunters using private timberlands under access agreements with WDFW.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle
Pierce National Wildlife Refuge: Biologist Anderson met with Pierce National Wildlife Refuge staff Chmielewski and Clapp to discuss a wetland enhancement project for western pond turtles. Project design and location were discussed during the site visit. The purpose of the project is to reconstruct a small pond that historically was used by a small population of turtles on the Refuge and adjacent private land. A flood event approximately 6 years ago destroyed the pond and associated habitat. The plan is to install a water control structure in the late summer/fall of 2012. Work is being planned with the approval of the adjacent private landowner.

Beacon Rock State Park: Biologist Anderson hired a local cooperator with Beacon Rock State Park (BRSP) to mow adjacent upland habitat as part of the WDFW/State Parks western pond turtle recovery project in the Columbia River Gorge. This week’s warm weather was the perfect opportunity to continue efforts to suppress tall grass and blackberry adjacent to the western pond turtle release site.

Collins Slide: Biologist Anderson and Holman met with DNR work crews to provide oversight for WDFW’s continued habitat improvement efforts for western pond turtle habitat in the Columbia River Gorge. This ongoing work is primarily funded by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and is targeting enhancement of upland nesting habitat for western pond turtles. This particular site is owned by the USFS and managed by a cooperative agreement with WDFW.

Bergen Road Site: Biologist Holman directed the work of one 10-man Inmate work crew for three days at the Bergen Road site. The crew focused on mowing meadow areas, mowing stalks of previously sprayed blackberries, mowing stands of healthy blackberry, covering piles of debris for winter burning, and installing a new gate post. Thanks to the Departments of Natural Resources and Corrections for making these crews available to WDFW under contract.

Biologists Anderson and Holman visited the recently completed areas of habitat enhancement associated with the U.S. Forest Service thinning at the Bergen Road site. WDFW helped develop the forestry prescription for the multi-year project, which involves thinning of dense Douglas firs to encourage growth of Oregon white oak and ponderosa pine. Please see the attached photo of an example of the thinned oak / pine forest developed through this effort. A byproduct of the thinning is huge amounts of wood to be sold by the Forest Service as a combination of biofuel and fire wood. Please see the photos at right of the biofuel generated from this project. An additional aspect of the thinning project is the daylighting of small ponds that lie within the forest. Please see the attached photo of Phillips' Pond, which now features much more sunlight and will be more favorable for western pond turtles.

These habitat management efforts between BPA, USFS, DNR, USFWS, State Parks and WDFW have been instrumental in our successful efforts for western pond turtle habitat in Region 5.

Oregon Spotted Frogs - Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve: Biologist Anderson and Hallock met with DNR Natural Areas staff to discuss habitat management activities at the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve (NAP) (Trout Lake DNR 003.JPG). WDFW biologists are providing management recommendations to DNR regarding habitat restoration efforts that will impact two state endangered species: Sandhill Crane and Oregon Spotted Frog. The Trout Lake NAP is one of the most important wetland habitats in south central Washinton for these two species and WDFW appreciates DNR’s cooperative efforts to enhance habitat for WDFW’s recovery efforts.

October 17

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Modern Firearm Deer Season Opening Weekend: Manager Van Leuven visited with hunters this opening weekend with mild temperatures, rain overnight, and mostly fair skies both days. There was a strong hunter turnout both days; however there were less than half the number of camps on the Wildlife Area compared to last year. Some people may have been on the Wildlife Area only during the day. There appeared to be good attendance but significantly fewer hunters than last year. Camps were better distributed this year, with all the good sites occupied and no camps situated in poor locations. Most people seemed satisfied that they had a good visit, with only a few complaints about the ban on campfires. Visitor conduct and compliance with rules was generally good this weekend.

On Saturday, Manager Van Leuven contacted 127 hunters, with only 4 legal deer taken. Three of the animals were 3-point bucks harvested on the Wildlife Area, and one 3-point buck was taken on private land, with the landowner's permission. One 2-point buck was shot on the Wildlife Area, and the hunter reported to WDFW law enforcement himself. On Sunday, manager Van Leuven contacted 83 hunters with 2 deer harvested. Both animals were 3-point bucks from the Wildlife Area.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Brushing Projects: Brushing projects for the year have been completed with the Department of Corrections inmate crew finishing 1 ½ miles of Scotch-broom removal on the 900 line of the Peterman Unit. In addition, brushing on all drainages from the Mossyrock Unit ponds was completed.

Job Shadowing: Cowlitz Wildlife Area staff have been working with local high school students on their Senior projects. Each senior has to complete a senior thesis to graduate. Cowlitz Wildlife Area Manager Grabski spent many hours with a student from Morton on a job shadow for his project last week and will have another student from the Chehalis School District later this week.


Repaired sign on Hwy 97
WDFW emplyees repaired a large Western Pacific Timber signboard that had been struck by a vehicle and was leaning backwards.

GAME DIVISION

Waterfowl Opening day: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and Fish and Wildlife Officers Anderson and Johnson checked hunters at Gray’s Bay on opening day. 21 hunters were contacted with 29 ducks, mostly Pintails and Widgeons. Morning tidal conditions probably impacted the hunting as the tide was outgoing all morning and duck movement in shallow feeding areas was reduced. A few hunters had problems with licenses, federal stamps, and un-plugged shotguns, but overall compliance was much better than in 2010 when many over limits of pintails were detected. The new WDFW launch at Oneida Road was at capacity with the boat and vehicles associated with this hunt. Interesting to note was that some diving birds (greater scaup) were observed in the bay. Numerous flocks of geese were also observed in the vicinity. Goose hunting in Wahkiakum county opens in November so all hunters could do was to watch the skeins fly by. Participation on Sunday was very much reduced.

Goose Management Area 2A pre-season preparations: The initial work to prepare for goose season in Region 5 has begun. This includes recruiting temporary Staff to facilitate check station operation, arrangement for station locations, review of supplies and training materials, etc. The complex goose seasons in Areas 2A and 2B are crafted in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect populations of the dusky Canada goose. Concurrently, the seasons are designed to allow recreational harvest and address agricultural damage issues associated with 6 abundant varieties of Canada geese. Those interested in hunting geese in Area 2A or 2B during the 2011-12 hunting season should review the requirements in the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Season Pamphlet.

Big Game Hunting Inquiries: Regional Wildlife Biologists fielded many contacts from the public as fall hunting seasons intensify with the beginning of modern firearm deer season. These interactions span the range of questions from new hunters needing information on regulations and maps to long-time hunters seeking new locations or detailed information.

Private Lands Access: Biologist Stephens generated a presentation highlighting recent activity in the Private Lands Access Program in Region 5. This information was requested by Biologist McCanna to be used in a presentation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Biologist Stephens and Technician White repaired a large Western Pacific Timber signboard that had been struck by a vehicle and was leaning backwards.

Biologist Stephens and Technician White met with District 9 Biologist Anderson to discuss strategies for recruiting landowners into the Private Lands program in eastern Klickitat county.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Logging on Western gray squirrel habitat Logging on Western gray squirrel habitat
A private timber sale led to Western gray squirrel habit being eliminated or severely compromised.

Western Gray Squirrel: Biologists Anderson, Bell, and Fornes conducted a Forest Practice Application (FPA) follow-up for a private timber sale in Klickitat County. This particular timber harvest proposal occurred in an area of extreme high density western gray squirrel use area. Over 100 nests were located in the unit following 3 days of intensive survey. Unfortunately the forester conducting the timber harvest did not choose to follow our Western Gray Squirrel (WGS) Management Guidelines and most of the habitat was eliminated or severely compromised. A follow-up review of the FPA will be conducted in November to further assess the damage to WGS habitat. This project was an example of how the voluntary guideline structure for management of WGS habitat is not working.

October 10

Fields on the Soda Springs Unit that are being farmed, with plans to grow winter wheat.
Fields on the Soda Springs Unit that are being farmed, with plans to grow winter wheat.

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Campfires on the Wildlife Area: The weather is cooling off with daytime temperatures in the 40's and 50's. It has been partly cloudy, with a few showers the last couple weeks. Although Washington Department of Natural Resources has lifted their ban on burning, Rural Fire District 7 (which covers much of the Soda Springs Unit) still has a burn ban in effect. After Rural Fire District 7 lifts their burn ban, WDFW will enforce the same rules regarding campfires that were in place last year. These are:

  • Open fires are permitted only in the major campgrounds along the Klickitat River (Leidl Park, Stinson Flat, Mineral Springs, and at Mile 5). Fires may be up to 3 feet in diameter.

  • Campfires are prohibited in upland areas. Fires must be contained within enclosed stoves, which have a fine screen capable of capturing sparks over the chimney. Stoves that are suitable for use inside a wall tent generally meet these parameters. People camping where fires are allowed may use wood collected or purchased from a nearby source; no standing dead trees may be cut, and no trash or manufactured items are to be burned in campfires.

Soda Springs Lease: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven inspected the fields on the Soda Springs Unit that are being farmed by a new lessee. All of the fields that are planned to grow winter wheat have been planted and show good growth (Flds 2 & 3.JPG). The alfalfa fields also have been well tended after producing one cutting of hay last summer.

Goat that became a resident of the day use area of Ike Kinswa State Park captured and removed.
Goat that became a resident of the day use area of Ike Kinswa State Park was captured and removed.
GAME DIVISION

Mt. St. Helens Elk Study: Regional Wildlife Biologists and researchers associated with the University of Alberta checked drop-off locations for delivery of elk samples. As part of the on-going investigation into the nutritional state of the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd, holders of antlerless elk permits have been asked to submit various samples to WDFW. Collection efforts currently focus on early muzzleloader season, with an expanded effort set to begin in November with the initiation of modern firearm elk season.

Ike Kinswa Goat: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and Wildlife Area staff Morris assisted the Law Enforcement Program with the capture of a goat that had become a resident in the day use area of Ike Kinswa State Park. Parks staff closed the area to the public and the animal was darted and removed. The animal was a 2.5 to 3 year old female in apparent very poor physical condition. The animal maybe necropsied to determine if any conditions of concern existed in this animal.

Private Lands: With the lift of the fire danger closures on the Weyerhaeuser St. Helens Tree farm, the St. Helens Land Access Program was able to facilitate the additional weekday motorized access with the help of volunteers during the Muzzleloader hunt this week. Scientific Technician Pyzik coordinated the volunteer effort and had about 12 volunteers each day facilitating the access and ensuring the safety of hunters and loggers alike. Many thanks to the volunteers for their help. If you would like to sign up to help with this program during November – January, please sign up at our website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/index.html.

Deer Season Media Contacts: Biologist Holman conducted interviews with three different local newspapers regarding deer season in southwest Washington. Readers of the Vancouver Columbian, Longview Daily News, and Centralia Chronicle should look for deer oriented articles in the days leading up to the modern firearm deer opener on October 15th. The arrival of cool, rainy weather should mean that conditions will be favorable for the start of the deer season.

Sandhill cranes
Birdwatchers
Public gets access to a closed area of the Refuge to view sandhill cranes behind a viewing blind on the edge of the lake during BIRDFEST.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Birdfest: Biologist Anderson represented WDFW this weekend at BIRDFEST hosted by the Friends of Ridgefield Refuge and held in the community of Ridgefield. Biologist Anderson assisted with a public field trip to view sandhill cranes at a night roost on Campbell Lake. This tour is one of the most popular events at the festival as the public gets access to a closed area of the Refuge to view sandhill cranes behind a viewing blind on the edge of the lake. Friday evening the public had a great experience as over 700 cranes flew in close to the viewing blind. On Saturday WDFW shared a booth with Ridgefield NWR and provided the public with information about our two programs. The events were well attended as Saturday's weather was excellent.

Western Pond Turtle Habitat Management: Biologists Holman and Stephens met with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding potential habitat management activities and enhancements on lands managed by the Corps near Bonneville Dam. The Corps manages approximately 300 acres in this vicinity for a combination of wildlife habitat and non-motorized public recreation. The area includes 3 wetland complexes and extensive areas of meadow. Various habitat management options were discussed including weed control, establishment of basking habitat, and enhancement of native shrubs. Additionally, activities such as turtle inventories (trapping), the possibility of turtle releases, bullfrog control, and known movements of painted turtles from Pierce Refuge to Corps lands were discussed. Thanks to the Corps for their interest in improving habitat conditions on their lands.

Biologist Anderson continued discussions with Staff from Pierce National Wildlife Refuge regarding wetland enhancements on the Refuge. Particularly interesting is the possibility of restoring a wetland area known as "Beaver Pond". This area was previously favored by western pond turtles and has since been drained by the loss of a beaver dam.

Biologist Holman met with Refuge Manger Clapp at Pierce Refuge to discuss habitat management activities and equipment storage issues. Ongoing efforts to manage invasive plants (mostly blackberry) were discussed and several treatment locations were visited. A combination of work by Refuge Maintenance Staff and the Skamania Forest Youth Success Crews has made significant progress in blackberry management on the Refuge over the past three years.

Biologists Holman and Stephens reviewed habitat conditions at the Bergen Road site following the work of the Skamania County weed crew in August. The crew did a very good job of applying herbicide to extensive areas of blackberry treatment and achieved excellent results. Further enhancements for this fall will include cutting of blackberries that weren't killed and mowing of meadow areas.

Western Pond Turtle Head Start Program: Biologist Holman delivered the final western pond turtle juveniles to the Portland Zoo. A total of 74 juvenile turtles from the Columbia River Gorge are currently at the Seattle and Portland Zoos. Special thanks to Jerry Novak of the Seattle Zoo and volunteers Kate and Frank Slavens for their extensive efforts to locate and care for this year's cohort of juvenile western pond turtles. These animals will stay at the zoos until approximately next July whereupon they will be released back into one of the four populations of pond turtles in the Gorge.

October 3

New roof built over a signboard that had previously been vandalized.
New roof built over a signboard that had previously been vandalized.

GAME DIVISION

Black-tailed Deer Annual Productivity Surveys: Biologist Holman and 5 volunteers from the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club conducted one evening of spotlight surveys for deer in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). Conditions were cool, windy, and rainy but relatively successful. Approximately 85 deer were located and classified during the 5-hour effort. Additional surveys will be conducted and data will be compiled for inclusion in the annual Pittman-Robertson report and incorporated into the Regional Sex, Age, Kill population estimation model for black-tails. Thanks to the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club for their ongoing efforts to promote hunting access, hunter education, and aid in wildlife surveys.

Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Study: Regional Wildlife Biologists established collection points at several locations in Region 5 to facilitate the collection of cow elk organs for body condition evaluation. Antlerless elk tag holders are asked to submit the heart, pericardium, kidneys, and teeth (as well as reproductive tracts from certain GMUs) from any yearling or older female elk that they harvest. The effort is currently directed towards muzzleloader tag holders with a more extensive study area set to begin in November with the beginning of modern firearm elk season.

Private Lands Access: Biologist Stephens and Technician White met with Western Pacific Timber foresters in the field this week to get their input on issues regarding the private lands access program. The agreement they have with WDFW expired recently and they are in the process of revising the agreement for renewal. The foresters indicated that WDFW signs are important to identify areas open to hunting and for hunter compliance of non-motorized entry to these areas. They also expressed an interest in habitat enhancement projects on their land. Technician White constructed a new roof over a signboard at a hunting access point on Hancock Forest Management property, as the previous roof had been vandalized.

Goat at Ike Kinswa State Park: A Mountain Goat has been observed using a day use area at Ike Kinswa State Park. District Wildlife Biologist Miller and Law Enforcement Officer Martin met with Parks staff regarding the goat in the park and discussed plans for monitoring and removal of the goat if the animal remains on site.

Watchable Wildlife: The first flocks of Cackling Canada geese of the fall were heard this week in Longview.