Tag Archives: wildlife area

‘Winter Weakens, Spring Kills’ – ODFW, Shed Hunters Group Urge Antler Seekers To Hold Off

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

In January, deer and elk in Oregon were in good body condition, and it looked like another mild winter for the state. Then came February.

HEAVY LATE WINTER SNOWS HAVE OREGON WILDLIFE OFFICIALS ASKING ANTLER SEEKERS TO HOLD OFF TILL THE RANGE GREENS UP AND DEER AND ELK CAN BEGIN TO RECOVER FROM THEIR WEAKENED STATES. (ODFW)

“We got two feet of snow in 24 hours here in central Oregon, and then another foot over the next 36 hours,” said Rob Tanner, co-founder and president of Oregon Shed Hunters, a group created to preserve the sport and promote ethical shed hunting. “It’s as much snow as I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve lived here.

The local animals that I have been seeing are struggling,” he added.

At this time of year, deer and elk are in taking in little nutrition, relying on their body reserves and what forage they can get to under the snow and outer crust of ice. Being forced to make extra movements in response to dog, vehicle or human disturbance weakens them further, using up what little energy they have left. Even in years with more typical winter weather patterns, most winter mortality of deer and elk occurs in March and April—or as wildlife biologists put it, “Winter weakens, spring kills.”

A PAIR OF BULL ELK MOVE THROUGH A PORTION OF THE SNOWY WENAHA WILDLIFE AREA. SOME PARTS OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN OREGON RECEIVED GREATER THAN 160 PERCENT OF AVERAGE SNOWPACK. (ODFW)

ODFW is conducting its annual herd composition surveys the next few weeks and will know more about over-winter survival of big game later this spring. But already it’s clear that deer and elk will be especially vulnerable to stress during early spring this year—making responsible shed hunting even more critical.

ODFW wildlife biologists are encouraging shed hunters to be considerate of big game and even delay their search this year. “Our winter ranges are still covered in snow and deer are having a difficult time, so I encourage shed hunters to wait until after snow melts and even after green-up has started,” said Deschutes District Wildlife biologist Corey Heath. “Most antlers are buried now anyway.”

Oregon Shed Hunters agrees. “Our recommendation is that given the late storm and late pressure on animals, to hold off on shed hunting until the snow melts and give the animals time to disperse and access feeding areas,” said Tanner.

More about shed antlers and rules for hunting them in Oregon

Oregon’s buck deer shed their antlers from late December through March. Elk started shedding in late February and will continue into April. Shed hunters collecting these antlers, especially in early spring when deer and elk are at their most vulnerable, need to follow these rules:

  • Avoid disturbing big game animals: Don’t approach animals.
  • Respect winter range and road closures: Several wildlife areas (Elkhorn, Ladd Marsh, P.W. Schneider, Wenaha, White River) are closed until early to mid-April, and other winter range areas in central and northeast Oregon are closed or have travel restrictions. See the 2019 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details, http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/19orhd/regulations-wildlife-areas-refuges-special-areas/
  • Keep vehicles on open roads—or travel by foot or horseback. The ground will be especially water-logged this year and off-roading in the wrong place will damage critical wildlife and fish habitat.
  • Don’t be in the same spot every day. Deer and elk might need to be in that spot for food or cover, and your presence will keep them from it.
  • Keep dogs under your control (and leashed at ODFW wildlife areas).  Don’t let dogs approach or follow wildlife. State law prohibits dogs (and people) from harassing wildlife. Reminder that dogs must be leashed at ODFW wildlife areas except when hunting game birds, in a posted dog training area, or in a parking area, campground or road open to vehicle traffic.
  • Don’t trespass on private property. You always need permission to be on private land. Antlers that are shed on private land belong to the landowner under Oregon statutes.
  • Know what you can keep: Only naturally shed antlers of deer and elk may be kept. Antlers attached to skulls may not be collected.

Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Troopers are conducing winter range patrols, using multiple resources such as ATVs, trail cameras and aircraft, to protect deer and elk during this critical time from both poachers and shed hunters violating road closures. Last year, they issued 41 citations and 41 warnings for various wildlife offenses from November-March on winter range.

AN OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER PATROLS THE STARKEY UNIT. ACCORDING TO STATE GAME MANAGERS, LIMITING DISTURBANCE OF BIG GAME BY THE PUBLIC IS A PATROL PRIORITY. (ODFW)

“Limiting disturbance to big game on winter range is critical for their over-winter survival and it’s an enforcement priority for us this time of year,” said Craig Heuberger, Lieutenant, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division

Some states concerned about shed hunters’ impact on big game have put seasons in place. Oregon currently has no specific season or plans to implement one, but wildlife managers share concerns about disturbances to big game.

WDFW Looking For Comments On 9 Proposed Fish, Wildlife Acquisitions

Washington fish and wildlife managers are looking for public comment on whether they should acquire 4,000 acres of land for salmon, forage fish and critter habitat and public recreation.

WDFW IS LOOKING FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON WHETHER TO SEEK FUNDING FOR NINE LAND BUYS, TRANSFERS AND DONATIONS ACROSS THE STATE TO PROTECT HABITAT AND ENHANCE FISHING AND HUNTING OPPORTUNTIES. (WDFW)

The nine projects would primarily pad state wildlife areas in Okanogan and northern Douglas Counties and protect estuaries on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal and Grays Harbor.

“This is an opportunity to comment on these proposals in the early stages of our strategic thinking,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager, in a press release.

Comments will determine if the agency goes ahead and seeks funding from the legislature and other sources.

The largest is a proposed 2,180-acre land buy around the Central Ferry Unit of the Wells Wildlife Area west of Bridgeport.

“Acquisition will complement and protect area habitat and species including, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage grouse and mule deer, while providing hunting, wildlife viewing, and other recreational opportunities,” a WDFW PDF states.

The buy has the support of Douglas County Commissioners, according to the agency.

On the other side of the Upper Columbia are proposed additions to the McLoughlin Falls (730 acres), Scotch Creek (220 acres) and Golden Doe (110 acres) Units of various wildlife areas in the Okanogan, Sinlahekin and Methow Valleys, respectively.

All would preserve deer and other wildlife habitat from development, while the Scotch Creek deal would be a trade, swapping for 80 acres of state wildlife area being leased for farming.

The three have the support of Okanogan County Commissioners, with the Colville Tribes also on board with the McLoughlin Falls deal along the Okanogan River between Tonasket and Riverside.

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In Western Washington, WDFW would be transferred 300 acres on the lower end of Big Beef Creek, “one of the largest, most intact watersheds in Kitsap County.”

“Ownership of this property would support continuation of a current restoration project,” an agency write-up states. “Additionally, Big Beef Creek is the only system in Hood Canal where state and tribal fishery managers have enough annual coho salmon out-migrants to mark wild coho salmon for marine survival and harvest forecast.”

It has the support three local tribes, county, DNR, Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group and others.

On the southern shore of Grays Harbor, WDFW would accept a 257-acre donation, protecting habitat and recreational opportunities, and link two other state-managed parcels.

A proposed 216-acre acquisition at the mouth of West Twin River would protect, enhance and restore over half a mile of saltwater shoreline between Port Angeles and Sekiu, including important eel grass beds and spawning areas for surf smelt, and 14,000 feet of riparian habitat in the stream, “one of the most important coho and steelhead systems in the strait.”

Federal researchers found that wild winter-run steelhead in West and East Twin Rivers have 18 different life histories.

A DNR SHORELINE PHOTO SHOWS THE MOUTH OF THE WEST TWIN RIVER. (DNR)

Two others are located on the Duckabush delta (.76 acre) and Lake Lenore (160 acres from state parks).

To learn more about the projects, go here .

Written comments are being taken through Feb. 25 by emailing lands@dfw.wa.gov.

 

Too Wild Life At Sauvie Has ODFW Considering Booze Ban

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22 to discuss a proposed seasonal ban on the use of alcohol on the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.

ALONG WITH UPLAND BIRD AND WATERFOWL HUNTING, THE SAUVIE ISLAND WILDLIFE AREA FEATURES GOOD PLUNKING BEACHES WHICH IN SPRING AND SUMMER ATTRACT OTHER RECREATIONISTS. (ODFW)

 The meeting is open to the public and will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sauvie Island Grange Hall, located on the island at 14443 NW Charlton Rd., Portland, OR 97231.

ODFW is proposing to prohibit the possession and use of alcoholic beverages on the wildlife area from May 1 through Sept. 30 each year. This is when the number of people using wildlife area beaches is typically the highest and alcohol-related problems are most significant, according to Mark Nebeker, SIWA manager.

Over the past several years, ODFW has documented an increase in alcohol-related problems at SIWA beaches, despite increased law enforcement, including saturation patrols. Wildlife area management and OSP believe that an alcohol ban during the summer months will significantly reduce alcohol-related problems, and thus the need for additional law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

Last year, 17 individuals were arrested for DUII as they travelled away from Sauvie Island beaches, and 36 percent of all DUII arrests in Columbia County by OSP troopers were those travelling from SIWA beaches. 

For the past five years, the number of visitors to the beach area annually from May through September is estimated at approximately 488,465 people. During periods of hot weather, the number of people on the beaches can exceed 16,000 people a day, exceeding the capacity of emergency services personnel to effectively respond to all the alcohol-related problems.

The proposed alcohol ban is also an agenda item for the March 16 meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in Salem.