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

Click here
for Directions


Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
July 2006

July 5, 2006


Shillapoo Wetland Operations: The staff working on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area has been in the process of drawing down the water levels in managed wetland basins on the Vancouver Lake and South Units. Water levels are kept as near to the maximum level possible until about this time each year as a method to control Reed Canary Grass. The summer drawdowns favor many native plants that germinate under warmer conditions. This has probably been the best water year we have had since the wetland management systems were installed and a large reduction in cover of Canary Grass has been noted.


Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd and Widlife Area Plan Open House: The second open house event to review the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd and Wildlife Area Plans was held on June 28th at the Water Resources Center in Vancouver. The meeting was not well attended. Only three individuals came to ask questions and share thier comments with biologists. A third and final meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held in the Seattle area on July 18th. An announcement will follow once the date and location are confirmed.

July 10, 2006


Capturing dark geese for banding.
Processing captured dark geese.
Operation Dark Goose

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Wildlife Area Manager Ellenburg has been seeing numerous turkey broods this summer on the wildlife area. The rain that has fallen throughout the spring and summer has increased grasses and these are full of insects for the chicks and poults to feed on. This should increase chances for success for the fall turkey hunters this season.

Deer fawns are starting to emerge and follow their mothers around so remember that if fawns are seen in the roads just scare them from the road and their mothers will come back to them.

With all the spring and summer rains the grasses are in abundance this year and this also brings an increase in fire danger, so please remember if you are visiting the wildlife area open fires and fireworks are prohibited.


Peregrine Falcon Monitoring: Productivity surveys continue for this year's statewide peregrine falcon monitoring effort. These surveys are part of ongoing monitoring of Peregrine Falcons by both Washington State and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Birds have been reported at several of the known historic sites and current efforts are focused on determining if occupied sites have produced young. Of seven territories currently being monitored in the Columbia River Gorge, three have young, two have failed, one is unoccupied and the other has had only one adult observed on site. We will continue to these sites until the breeding season is complete.


Operation Dark Goose: The Lower Columiba River capture of dark resident geese took place on July 7. This project is designed to mark as many local geese that resemble the dusky subspecies as possible. The project is designed to improve population estimates of the Dusky subspecies as well as improve check station operations during the hunting season. Over 30 volunteers from OSU, WDFW, ODFW and private citizens contibuted to the project. A total of 150 geese were caught and released with a variety of markers such as neck collars, tarsus bands and federal leg bands. These birds can be recognised from others by the white collar or tarsus bands or by the unique leg band series.

July 17, 2006


Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Timber Cutting Trespass:
Wildlife area staff members Morris, Vanderlip, Grabski, and Tacoma Power Lands Officer Wilson conducted an inventory of trees cut on the Mayfield Lake buffer by a local landowner. This is the third such incident this year on the wildlife area where usually landowners try to cut some trees to increase their view, but this trespass included commercial logging. First estimates include well over 100 trees cut with log diameters of Douglas Fir, Red Alder, and Big-leaf Maple between 8 to 46 inch diameters. Further paperwork including field reports, statements, and a professional timber appraisal will be turned over to enforcement for action.

Peterman Trail Construction: Assistant Manager Vanderlip has worked closely with Tacoma Power and the contractor who is building the trail to ensure that minimal resource damage occurs. The trail is a FERC license requirement for Tacoma Power but the staff of the Cowlitz Wildlife Area has consulted with Tacoma Power throughout the entire process. The main objective from our standpoint was to assist in planning the location of the trail to ensure that the public would have an aesthetically appealing trail with limited impacts on wildlife and other resources. The trail and the trailhead infrastructure (i.e. parking area, bathroom, hitching rail and information kiosk) should be completed by the end of August. This looks like it will be a good trail to have a great watchable wildlife experience as the amount of wildlife using the trail can be described as intense in many places.

Recreation Information - Riffe Lake Water Levels: Tacoma Power updates lake levels and other recreation information on its toll-free Fishing and Recreation Line every weekday at 1-888-502-8690.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Toutle River Enhancement Funding Proposal:
Acting Program Manager Calkins has submitted a proposal to the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation to fund work to protect important elk habitat and enhance riparian and floodplain conditons on the Mt. St. Helens State Wildlife Area. The project concept is to place man-made logjams and plantings along the erosion prone edge of the mudflow to lessen the risk of catastrophic erosion as well as increase habitat diversity on the site. During the preparation of the proposal Calkins heard support from the Cowlitz Tribe and The Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board who has written a letter in support of the project.


Western Pond Turtles: WDFW is currently submitting a proposal to extend funding for WPT conservation in the Columbia River Gorge. This proposal will continue existing funding provided by The Bonneville Power Administration. As part of the review process, Biologist Anderson completed his response to BPA questions on future funding of the WPT project. Current funding will continue until October of this year at which time BPA will determine if funding for further work for an additional five years is warranted.


Lower Columbia River
  Adult Total
Female 32 9 41
Male 29 5 34
Total 61 14 75
Lower Columbia River
Resident Canada Goose Banding

Lower Columbia River Resident Canada Goose Banding: Last week's goose banding effort on the Lower Columbia River resident Canada geese was a very successful effort. Of the 150 birds handled, 131 were new captures for this year and 19 birds were re-captures. Of the 19 re-captured birds, 16 had been originally handled in 2003-2005. Two females with evidence of brooding chicks had been originally caught in 2001, and one bird was originally captured in the late 1990's.

The 131 new captures consisted of 75 adult birds and 56 of this years' young. Neck collars were placed on 76 birds, since some of the young of the year were large enough to hold a neck collar. These neck collars help to distinguish Washington's resident geese that have a darker breast color and are similar in appearance to Alaska's Dusky Canada Geese. Close monitoring of these darker local birds over the past 4 years have given us a better time window to target these darker birds for banding.

The Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club: Biologist Holman gave a presentation to 19 members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club. Topics presented and discussed included the changes in effect for the 2006-08 3-year big-game hunting seasons, the Group's voluntary help with annual deer productivity surveys, the Group's continued agreement with Weyerhaeuser to facilitate tree farm access for hunting, and the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd Plan. Comments regarding various aspects of the Elk Herd Plan were solicited and for the most part, they agreed with the proposals in question.

The Yacolt Burn Sportsman's Club has been important in Clark County for several years. The group assures access to an important and large portion Weyerhaeuser's South St. Helens Tree Farm. The area is known to the locals as "The Burn", referencing the 1902 fire that burned many thousands of acres. The Sportsman's Club opens and closes the access gate daily during the modern firearm and muzzleloader seasons, allowing access for hundreds of hunters. The group also assists Weyco with security patrols, posts informational material, etc. Group President Dick Soderlind and Vice President Art Palmer deserve special credit and thanks for their effort to maintain public access to private lands for hunting.

July 24, 2006


Band-tailed pigeon
Band-tailed pigeons
Band-tailed pigeons at the Upper Kalama site.

Band-Tailed Pigeon Surveys: Surveys of band-tailed pigeon arriving at mineral sites have recently been completed in Region 5. Band-tails use mineral sites extensively during the summer months. Long-term trends in the use of such sites serves as an indicator of overall population. The survey protocol for band-tail mineral sites prescribes a single visit to each location during the period encompassing July 10-20. Surveyors count all arriving and departing pigeons beginning 30 minutes prior to sunrise and concluding at noon.

Biologist Holman conducted band-tailed pigeon mineral site surveys at the Cedar Creek and Upper Kalama mineral sites. A total of 228 pigeons arrived at Cedar Creek, while 327 pigeons visited the Upper Kalama site. Biologist Anderson completed a survey of the St Martins band-tailed pigeon spring in Skamania County. This years numbers totaled 242 birds. Cedar Creek, Kalama River and St. Martins all produced survey results similar to those of past years. Biologist Miller and WDFW volunteer Jarvis completed the mineral site survey at the Altoona site. This site has apparently become less valuable to the birds over time and just 5 band-tails were documented during the effort. Biologist Woodin conducted the mineral site survey at the Newaukum River site. The results of Woodin's survey are pending but the use of this site has been highly variable in past years, with as few as 200 and as many as 600 of the birds using the site. Please see the attached photos of band-tailed pigeons utilizing the Upper Kalama River mineral site.

Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd and Wildlife Area Plan Open House: The third and final open house event to review the Mt. St. Helens Elk Herd and Wildlife Area Plans was held on July 18th at the Red Lion Hotel in Seattle (Sea-Tac). The meeting was moderately well attended with approximately 24 members of the public on hand to discuss the issues. Acting Regional Wildlife Program Manager Calkins gave an introduction to the attendees, explaining the issues at hand, materials available for review and introducing biological Staff present at the meeting. Manager Calkins, District Wildlife Biologists Anderson, Miller and Davison along with Field Biologists Woodin and Holman represented WDFW at the gathering.

In general, this was the best attended and most productive of the three public meetings held to discuss these Management Plans. Plenty of good input was gathered from the group and the meeting was seen as positive and productive by both the attendees and WDFW. Public comments related to the Plans will be synthesized and the goal is to finalize each Plan prior to the end of 2006.

July 31, 2006


Western Pond Turtles: Basking log placement was accomplished at Pierce National Wildlife Refuge this past week. Twelve logs and two stumps have been added to Pierce Lake, and four logs were added along the shoreline of Domestic Spring Pond. The logs and equipment were provided by the USFS, and placement was supervised by WDFW biologist Sue Van Leuven.

The logs were oriented perpendicular to the shoreline, sloping down to the water. This creates a ramp like structure that turtles can easily climb up on regardless of water level. Root wads were also used and were anchored in place. The log in the photo taken at Domestic Spring Pond hosted a basking turtle within hours of the time it was placed.

Student volunteers from Carson high school will come to Pierce NWR during the week of July 31 to fasten logs together for additional basking rafts.


Mountain Goat Surveys: WDFW personnel for District 9 & 10 along with Mt Goat Research Scientist Rice completed the surveys for Mt Goats in Region V. Dr Rice is directing a research study on goats in the Cascades and his work will enable WDFW to better track goat numbers. A model that estimates the " Sightablity" of goats in varying habiatats will improve tha accurracy of our counts in the future. This week the counts were as follows: Smith Creek 31 goats were observed with a kid:adult ratio of 29:100. In the Goat Rocks, 265 goats were observed and an estimate of kid number is 42:100 adults, some data is yet to be analyzed. The survey for the Tatoosh GMU is being conducted by the National Park Service as part of a cooperative project. Surveys are conducted with a turbine helicopter that allows a good view of the animals while moving quickly to avoid prolonged disturbance.