Tag Archives: U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Good News For Early Season NW Duck Hunters In Annual Survey

Silver lining to all of last winter and spring’s rain? Plenty of water for waterfowl to do their thing — and boy howdy did they ever.

Nearly twice as many ducks were counted in Washington compared to last year, according to a federal survey released today.

WATERFOWLERS LIKE LES CUMMINGS AND LES LOGSDON SHOULD SEE MORE MALLARDS AND WOODS DUCKS THIS FALL, THANKS TO STELLAR PRODUCTION IN WASHINGTON AND LIKELY GOOD PRODUCTION IN OREGON. THE DUO LIMITED AT THE BARKER RANCH NEAR RICHLAND EARLY LAST FALL WHILE PARTICIPATING IN A DISABLED VETERANS HUNT PUT ON THERE EACH OCTOBER. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s good news for hunting in the early season, which is typically fueled by local production until migrating northern birds arrive.

“In Washington the total duck estimate was 99% higher than the 2016 estimate, and 44% above the long-term average (2010–2016),” reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They may not have the bright-orange legs of their Alberta brethren, but Evergreen State mallards did well, up 72 percent over last year and 29 percent above the 1978-2016 average, USFWS adds.

To the south, Oregon’s 2017 total duck and mallard estimates were similar to 2016 and the long-term average, though greenheads were down 21 percent over the long haul.

But there may not really be any reason for Beaver State waterfowlers to get their waders in a bunch over that.

For our September issue’s fall flight forecast, MD Johnson interviewed ODFW’s duck boss Brandon Rieshus.

“Normally, we count the best of the best – the Willamette Valley and the wetlands in Eastern Oregon – as examples. Maybe the birds were scattered across the basin in places we don’t count. But from a habitat standpoint, it looked very good. The best it’s been in four or five years. (My guess is) production will be pretty good,” Rieshus told Johnson.

The USFWS report backs that notion.

“Habitat conditions in Oregon were much improved relative to the past several years and were good to excellent in all surveyed areas. Some areas of southcentral and southeastern Oregon had basins and playas with water for the first time in a decade or more. Many playas and dugout ponds throughout the High Desert were flooded as well,” the agency stated.

It was even wetter to the north.

“In Washington, overall water availability was the among wettest seen in 20 years according to state wildlife area staff and others, particularly through the Potholes and Channeled Scablands region, where potholes and ponds were plentiful. Reservoirs throughout east­ern Washington were at or above 100% capacity with associated flooding of fields and pastures. In early May, significant snowmelt runoff was still occurring throughout the Okanogan and Northeast Highlands,” USFWS reported.

A U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MAP FOR WASHINGTON STREAM FLOWS SHOWS THAT CREEKS AND RIVERS IN EASTERN WASHINGTON STILL RUNNING AT ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS, INCLUDING CRAB CREEK, AND THE PALOUSE AND WALLA WALLA RIVERS. (USGS)

In terms of hard numbers, Washington’s mallard population was estimated at 103,400, well above 2016’s 60,000 (overall ducks: 242,000 vs. 121,500.

Oregon’s duck population was 239,900, up from last year’s 213,600.

Looking across the rest of North America, Ducks Unlimited reports that the overall estimate of 47.3 million breeding ducks in traditional survey zones is less than a million birds below 2016’s count, but still 34 percent above the 60-year average.

While mallards are down 11.3 percent, DU points to dry conditions in the Canadians “Parklands” of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 

Reward Offered For Info On Bald Eagle Found Shot Near Gaston

There’s now a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction in the illegal shooting of a bald eagle southwest of Portland last month.

The male raptor was found outside Gaston, off Old Highway 47 and Looking Glass Drive, on June 28 following reports of an injured eagle in the area.

INSPECTION OF THIS BALD EAGLE AT THE AUDUBON SOCIETY IN PORTLAND LED AUTHORITIES TO BELIEVE IT HAD BEEN SHOT. (OSP)

The reward is being offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bald and golden eagles are protected under a pair of federal acts, and harming one comes with a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Anyone with information on the case is being asked to call USFWS’s Oregon Office (503-682-6131) or the state police (800-452-7888). Case number is SP17221814.

Apparent Wolf Captured, Collared In Eastern Skagit County

What could be the first wolf captured in Western Washington is now being monitored by wildlife managers.

The 100-pound animal was collared Thursday, June 8, in eastern Skagit County near Marblemount and released.

USFWS CONFIRMS A POSSIBLE WOLF WAS CAPTURED AND COLLARED NOT FAR UP THE SKAGIT VALLEY FROM HERE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The news was broken by the Skagit Valley Herald.

“We did capture what appears to be a 2- to 3-year-old male gray wolf,” confirms U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ann Froschauer late this afternoon.

She says blood and saliva were taken from the animal and sent to the agency’s forensic lab for testing, confirmation that it’s a full-blooded wolf and to determine where it might have come from.

WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS WORK ON THE SEDATED CANID CAPTURED JUNE 8. (USFWS)

While at least four collared wolves have briefly wandered into Western Washington in recent years (one of which didn’t make it back out after being hit on I-90), this would be the first to have been captured, outfitted with telemetry and released west of the Cascades.

Froschauer says its movements are being monitored via GPS collar to “see if it sticks around or wanders off.”

USFWS and WDFW were drawn to the location in mid-May after a resident reported three chickens killed by a wolf and had solid photos to back it up.

Initially there were suggestions that a pack might be in the area, based on howling, but that’s less certain now.

“We did hang some cameras out. We did not see any other animals. As of right now there’s at least one that appears to be a wolf,” Froschauer says.

Grand scheme, a single wolf doesn’t do much for state recovery goals, but it has the potential to bring issues from the 509 much closer to Western Washington.

USFWS has management authority over wolves in the western two-thirds of the state, where the species remains federally listed.

WDFW had no comment.

WDFW also has had no comment about two dead calves found in the Kettle Range two days ago and which were investigated yesterday.

And WDFW probably doesn’t want to comment on the latest from Washington State University, where a professor plans to sue over alleged free speech violations involving wolves.

USFWS, WDFW Looking For Signs Of Possible Wolf Pack In Skagit Co.

Federal and state biologists are looking into the possibility that there may be wolves in eastern Skagit County.

Spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says it’s too early for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm that reported tracks, howls and photos mean wolves have indeed arrived on the west side of the North Cascades or how many there might be, but in recent weeks her agency and WDFW biologists have been following up on good leads.

FEDERAL AND STATE BIOLOGISTS HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING UP ON EASTERN SKAGIT COUNTY RESIDENTS’ REPORTS OF POSSIBLE WOLVES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Froschauer says that in mid-May, a resident reported a suspected depredation of their chickens by a wolf and had pictures to back it up.

The resident told investigators that they had heard howling and seen tracks for a couple months beforehand too, according to Froschauer.

“Follow-up conversations with other area residents included reports of additional sightings, tracks, and howling in the area,” she adds.

Froschauer says the howling is “suggestive of multiple wolves.”

“Biologists attempted to capture one or more animals over the next week and a half without success. We have deployed trail cameras, and will continue to investigate reports of wolf activity in the area,” Froschauer says.

Capturing one would help determine if the animal was a purebred wolf, hybrid or something else.

And if proven to be a wolf, it could mean the first pack in Western Washington outside of the British Columbia-denning pack that haunted the Hozomeen area of Washington’s upper Ross Lake in recent years.

Froschauer says USFWS and WDFW get multiple unconfirmed reports of Westside wolves annually, and says at least four individuals are known to have traveled from their packs west across the Cascade Crest at one point or another.

“Wolves have continued to naturally recolonize the state via dispersal from resident Washington packs and neighboring states and provinces,” she says.

Wolves west of Highways 97, 17 and 395 are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and managed by USFWS. Those east of that line are managed by WDFW and state listed.