Tag Archives: winter range

Pronghorn Capture-collar Project Could Identify Key SE Oregon Habitat

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

ODFW will capture 155 pronghorn antelope in the southeastern part of the state during the week of Sept. 22 in order to deploy GPS transmitters to identify migration patterns and winter range.

OREGON WILDLIFE MANAGERS PLAN TO CAPTURE AS MANY AS 155 PRONGHORN ANTELOPE TO STUDY THEIR MIGRATIONS AND WINTER RANGE USE IN THE STATE’S SOUTHEASTERN CORNER. THIS BAND WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON. (CHAD ZOLLER)

In partnership with federal agencies, ODFW wildlife biologists working under the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Secretarial Order 3362, aim to improve habitat quality in western big game winter range and migration corridors through this data-collection operation.

Since data are lacking for pronghorn movements across most of southeastern Oregon, this operation will provide important information in identifying where critical corridors occur on the landscape.

The timing of the project primarily falls after the archery deer and elk seasons but before the rifle deer season starts Sept. 28. Some hunters scouting for deer may see the capture crew operating in the Malheur, Harney and north Lake County areas. Hunters should be aware that low-flying helicopter flight patterns during this four to five-day period are targeting pronghorn for capture. ODFW and its contractors will work to avoid impacting deer hunters who are pre-season scouting in the area.

“We don’t expect the helicopters to have an impact on hunters who are scouting,” said Don Whittaker, ODFW ungulate coordinator. “Pronghorn and mule deer should be in different areas during this operation since the animals use different places on the landscape. There are some exceptions such as Steens Mountain and the Trout Creek mountains, but as a whole, there won’t be much overlap,” added Whittaker.

Background info from DOI SO 3362 State Action Plan

Movement and migration corridors are important biological parameters for ungulate populations. These areas are best delineated using movement data collected from animals using GPS transmitters and modern, rigorous geospatial analyses. While Secretarial Order 3362 recognizes the need for habitat improvement and conservation of migration corridors, more data are needed in Oregon to properly identify where critical corridors occur on the landscape.

In particular, data are lacking for pronghorn movements across most of southeastern Oregon. ODFW is currently collecting GPS data from hundreds of mule deer throughout their eastern Oregon ranges that will facilitate identification of critical movement and migration corridors on all land ownerships, including the timing of migration and potential barriers

The majority of pronghorn habitats in Oregon occur on BLM lands. Rigorous data documenting movement and migration corridors for pronghorn in Oregon is currently extremely limited.

‘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.

Snow, Cold Leading WDFW To Close Eastern Blue Mtns. Wildlife Areas To Protect Big Game

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

Two Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wildlife areas (WLAs) and multiple units of other wildlife areas in southeast Washington are closed to public access until April. These closures are aimed at cutting down on disturbances to deer and elk struggling through extreme winter conditions.

BULL ELK GATHER NEAR A PONDEROSA ABOVE WASHINGTON’S GRANDE RONDE DURING 2016-17’S HARSH WINTER IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. (WDFW)

Heavy snow loads and colder than normal temperatures are causing physical stress to wildlife in the area. The 4-O Ranch and Grouse Flats WLAs, along with the Weatherly Unit, Shumaker Unit, and all Asotin Creek WLA units south of the North Fork of Asotin Creek and Campbell Grade are closed to human activity. Minimizing contact between humans and animals will help the chances of survival for wildlife.

“The 2019 winter has been more severe than normal in February and elk and deer are at the lowest end of their nutritional state. It is thought that the fall drought, lack of fall green up, and the dry summer may have resulted in elk being in poorer than normal condition entering the winter. Elk and deer have been documented dying of starvation in places in southeast Washington. Reducing any further stress from disturbance will be important to maximize survival,” said Paul Wik, District Wildlife biologist

These closures will mostly impact shed hunters who use the approximately 27,190 affected acres to recover antlers dropped by deer and elk this time of year. Adjacent U.S. Forest Service public lands are still open for winter recreation activities at this time.


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“We know it’s an adjustment for the public, but we need their help. Abiding by the closure helps to protect our wildlife for long-term population health,” Wik said.

Closed areas are marked with signs to the extent possible. Fishing access is still available for the river corridor on the Shumaker unit. Motorized travel on county maintained roads through the areas is also still allowed.

More information on WDFW wildlife areas can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/

WDFW Appealing Wenatchee Development Plan’s Low Deer Mitigations In Priority Habitat

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROMN THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to appeal a decision by the City of Wenatchee that denies the department’s bid to require mitigation for impacts to mule deer from a 13-acre subdivision under development in the Wenatchee Foothills.

A PORTION OF A MAP SHOWING THE BLACK ROCK TERRACE DEVELOPMENT NEAR WENATCHEE. (CITY OF WENATCHEE)

The department intends to file its appeal in Chelan County Superior Court next week, said Jim Brown, WDFW regional director.

Brown said WDFW is concerned about the loss of prime mule deer habitat and the potential for human-wildlife conflicts resulting from the Black Rock Terrace development, located near Skyline Drive within Wenatchee’s city limits.

He noted that the land under development for a subdivision is designated by the state as priority mule deer habitat and supports the largest herd of wintering mule deer in Chelan County.

“We’re not trying to stop the project, but we do ask that the developer help to mitigate potential conflicts with deer and for lost wildlife habitat,” Brown said. “At minimum, we would expect conflicts to include an increase in collisions with deer and complaints about damage to landscaping around homes from deer eating ornamental plants.”

Mitigation measures sought by WDFW include:

Clustering development in order to maintain migration corridors for mule deer;
Adding signage cautioning drivers to watch for deer;
Installing deer fencing around the development to minimize human-deer interactions;
Shielding lights to reduce glare and light;
Using cattle guards across ungated driveways to keep deer out of yards;
Installing native shrub-steppe vegetation to provide a functional strip of habitat;
Requiring that pets be leashed when they’re outside fenced yards; and
Minimizing disturbance of vegetation on the property and controlling invasive and noxious weed species.

A city hearing examiner denied WDFW’s mitigation request at a hearing Dec. 14, 2018, and again on reconsideration Jan. 7, 2019.

Brown said WDFW designates the area scheduled for development as priority habitat for mule deer, and the City of Wenatchee’s comprehensive plan calls for “appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures” for development in habitat conservation areas.

The city acknowledged WDFW’s priority habitat designation in its Mitigated Determination of Non-significance environmental statement for the Black Rock project, but Brown said the only mitigation it required was installation of a six-foot fence.

Brown said the city relied on the applicant’s mitigation plan, which relied on an outdated 2010 report to characterize the project site as a “low” priority area for mule-deer habitat. More recent information that reflects the significant impact of recent wildfires on that area, he said.

“The project’s consultant has since said the site is frequently used by mule deer for winter foraging,” he said. “We simply want to work with the city to reduce the impacts of the project on mule deer and area residents before the development moves forward.”

122 More Oregon Charges Filed Against SW WA Poaching Suspects, Others

Southwest Washington poaching suspects and others now face charges in a fourth Oregon county, in addition to many more north of the Columbia as well.

Prosecutors in The Dalles yesterday filed 122 wildlife misdemeanor charges against 11 men and women, including a combined 87 against the two men whose phones led game wardens in both states to discover a shocking amount of alleged illegal killing of wintering bucks for their antlers, as well as unlawfully chasing bear and bobcat with dogs.

BUCK HEADS AND A RIFLE SEIZED DURING SEARCH WARRANTS SERVED IN COWLITZ COUNTY IN MARCH 2017. (WDFW VIA KPTV)

Those two individuals are Erik C. Martin and William J. Haynes, both 24 and from Kelso and Longview. They were hit with 42 and 45 of the charges in Wasco County, where the case began in fall 2016.

According to reports from KOIN and The Seattle Times, others who were charged there include:

Joseph A. Dills, 31, of Longview: 12 counts

Aaron B. Hendricks, 35, of Woodland: five counts

Sierra Dills, 18, of Longview: four counts

David R. McLeskey, 59, of Woodland: four counts

Eddy A. Dills, 58, of Longview: two counts

Kimberly K. Crape, 20, hometown unknown: two counts

Wyatt Keith, 17, hometown unknown: two counts

Aubri N. McKenna, 36, hometown unknown: one count

Aaron C. Hanson, 38, hometown unknown: one count

Hendricks, McKlesky, Haynes and Joseph A. Dills also face charges in Oregon’s Clackamas County, they’ve pleaded not guilty to more in Clatsop County, and McKleskey and Dills are expected to be charged in Lincoln County too, according to news reports.

Also charged in Clatsop County was Eddy Dills, who recently appeared on Seattle news station KING-5 to take aim at Washington’s timber damage prevention bear hunts to excuse his alleged actions, which seems more and more farcical with every new charge against him, his family and acquaintances.

Eddy Dills reportedly pleaded not guilty to poaching in Clatsop County.

Haynes and Joseph A. Dills were each initially charged with 64 counts each in Washington’s Skamania County, Martin with 28, Eddy Dills with 26.

Charges against ringmembers have also been filed in Cowlitz, Lewis, Jefferson and Pacific Counties.

WILLIAM J. HAYNES IN A SELFIE AFTER ALLEGEDLY SHOOTING AN ILLEGALLY HUNTED BLACK BEAR AT CLOSE RANGE WITH A SHOTGUN. (WDFW)

It all stems from a single traffic stop during the harsh winter of 2016-17.

Oregon State Police wildlife troopers investigating a string of headless bucks shot and left on winter range near Mt. Hood matched a trail cam photo of a truck with one spotted in The Dalles and pulled it over.

Inside were Haynes and Martin, and a mountain of evidence was ultimately found on their phones and homes.

WILLIAM J. HAYNES AND ERIK C. MARTIN. (WDFW)