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Ski
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 7:16 pm 
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Friday September 23, 2016 17:32 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
http://wdfw.wa.gov/

Contact: Hannah Anderson, (360) 902-8403

WDFW seeks comments on draft status reviews for woodland caribou, pond turtles and sandhill cranes

OLYMPIA – State wildlife managers are seeking public input on their recommendations to keep woodland caribou, western pond turtles and sandhill cranes on Washington’s list of endangered species.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state to determine whether each species warrants its current listing or deserves to be reclassified or delisted. The public can comment through Dec. 23 on the listing recommendations and periodic status reports for woodland caribou, western pond turtles and sandhill cranes.

The draft reviews for all three species are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/.

Written comments on the reviews and recommendations can be submitted via email to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to discuss the reviews and recommendations with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January 2017 meeting. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

The Selkirk Mountains in northeastern Washington are home to a unique type of woodland caribou. Southern mountain caribou are distinguishable from other populations of woodland caribou by their habitation of mountainous areas with deep snow accumulations and their primary winter diet of arboreal lichens. The group of caribou living in the southern Selkirks has been listed as an endangered species in the state since 1982.

South Selkirk caribou were once considered abundant, possibly numbering in the hundreds in the late 1800s. But the population decreased to an estimated 25 to 100 animals between 1925 and the mid-1980s. Most recently, this isolated subpopulation declined rapidly from 46 to 12 caribou between 2009 and 2016. Threats to these caribou include high levels of predation, collisions with vehicles on highways, human disturbance in the form of backcountry winter recreation, and climate change.

The western pond turtle is one of only two freshwater turtle species native to Washington. It inhabits lakes, wetlands, ponds and adjoining upland habitats. The species was once common around the Puget Sound lowlands and probably the Columbia River Gorge but, by 1994, the statewide population had declined to about 150 turtles. The recovery of this species is challenging because pond turtles grow at a slow rate and have a delayed sexual maturity. Threats in Washington to western pond turtles include habitat loss, predation and competition with other species, especially the non-native American bullfrog. Shell disease also has emerged as a major concern.

In recent years, the species’ population has increased to an estimated total of 800 to 1,000 turtles statewide due to various recovery actions, including reintroductions of turtles. Despite this progress, the statewide population remains below the state’s recovery goal and is still reliant on programs, such as rearing young turtles in captivity, to supplement the population.

The sandhill crane was listed as an endangered species by the state of Washington in 1981. Sandhill crane numbers were reduced throughout the western states by commercial hunting and habitat loss. No pairs nested in Washington for 30 years, beginning in the late 1940s. Three subspecies of sandhill crane occur in Washington, including lesser, greater, and Canadian cranes. Lesser sandhill cranes make up most of the flocks that stop in eastern Washington during migration. Greater sandhill crane is the only type of sandhill crane that breeds in Washington. The number of nesting pairs has steadily increased since the late 1970s, and the summer population in Washington totaled 89 birds, including 33 pairs in 2015.

Public and private lands in the Columbia Basin and on the lower Columbia River provide important habitat for cranes during migration, and up to 1,400 Canadian sandhill cranes have wintered on lower Columbia bottomlands in recent years. Sandhill cranes in Washington continue to face threats such as loss of habitat and human disturbance at nesting sites. While cranes have benefitted from management actions, the species’ breeding population in Washington is still quite small and essential habitats remain under threat.

Forty-five species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection by the state as endangered, threatened or sensitive species.

-WDFW-

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Pyrites
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 7:58 pm 
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Ski

I went a talk on woodland caribou at Jasper this summer. Parks Canada is concerned about the caribou in the park. The several herds have all dropped to one or two dozen individuals, and are disjunct. Briefly they mentioned that removal of wolves in Jasper NP at some point had lead to bigger elk populations, which lead to exaggerated wolf populations when they came back, which then ate more caribou at some season.

Some backcountry areas are off limits to all visitors based on caribou use. More are off limits for griz'.
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Ski
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 8:46 pm 
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gah!

Selkirks is the only place in the lower 48 where those animals exist, and apparently they aren't doing well.

Didn't know about "caribou closures". Was aware of "grizzly bear closures" because they close the Crowell Ridge Road in the fall for that reason, restricting access to that area.

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Humptulips
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 10:28 pm 
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Here is BCs approach to saving Mountain Caribou http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/speciesconservation/mc/files/Recommendations_Predator-Prey_Management_Final.pdf

I have a feeling it is too late for them on this side of the border. Seems last I heard there was an estimate of only 4 in WA. Maybe that is an average per day and they are across the border much of the time but still seems like a death rattle to me.
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Two winters ago I was on a trapping trip in E WA and my partner caught a pond turtle in one of our muskrat traps. Only one I have ever seen so I can't say which kind it was. We let it out and it swam off a ways and then dove out of sight along a grassy bank. Still pretty cold out and it was kind of slow. Cool to see one.

On another note we were camped out just north of the Scootney Reservoir.
The Sandhill Cranes were rafted up on the Reservoir, thousands of them. They take off at daybreak and fly out to feed in small flocks. We would get up at daybreak to watch hundreds of them fly over camp at 50 to 100 feet elevation, calling all the time. It is really a sight to behold. I would recommend to anyone a trip over there about the last week of Feb., first week of March to see it. Be there at first light, that is when the best show is.
Once I heard what I thought was a low flying jet coming and it turned out to be a huge flock, the jet sound was their wings.
These were the Lesser's migrating.
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Ski
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PostSat Sep 24, 2016 12:51 am 
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^ interesting read there. up.gif

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Pyrites
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PostSat Sep 24, 2016 12:23 pm 
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Ski wrote:
gah!

Selkirks is the only place in the lower 48 where those animals exist, and apparently they aren't doing well.

Didn't know about "caribou closures". Was aware of "grizzly bear closures" because they close the Crowell Ridge Road in the fall for that reason, restricting access to that area.

The presenter said the closure area west of the Maligne River, and one or two others were primarily aimed at caribou. We weren't planning on biking or hiking in any place mentioned so I didn't pay as much attention as I might have. It seemed most areas were already not used much anyway.

In the case of Maligne I don't know if the recent burn overlaps this area or if they most of burn is below it in elevation.

Off topic we had ice cream sundae in Jasper, twice. First ice cream this year. Yum!
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Humptulips
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PostThu Sep 29, 2016 1:08 am 
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Pretty good podcast about Mountain Caribou from Meateater. They interview a biologist who is working on Mountain Caribou recovery.
It rambles at times and it takes them a bit to get to the subject but lays out the problems and what it will take to recover them.

http://www.themeateater.com/podcasts/episode-042-seattle-washington-steven-rinella-talks-with-wildlife-biologist-bart-george-along-with-ryan-callaghan-land-tawney-and-meateaters-janis-putelis/
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PostThu Sep 29, 2016 1:41 pm 
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Interesting that wolves, plus an increased primary food source are common thread. Elk in Jasper, moose in Selkirks.
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Dave Workman
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PostSun Oct 02, 2016 4:43 am 
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To save the mountain caribou in the northeast counties, one just might have to plug a few wolves. Give that some thought.

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PostSun Oct 02, 2016 10:49 am 
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^ looking at the paper that Humptulips cites above it would appear that may well be true.
the option being to let them be extirpated from the lower Selkirks due to increased predation.

truly a deal where a management agency is going to be put into a position of either "playing God", or taking no action and allowing the species to be killed off in its southern range.

glad I don't have that job.

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostSun Oct 02, 2016 3:36 pm 
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Dave Workman wrote:
To save the mountain caribou in the northeast counties, one just might have to plug a few wolves. Give that some thought.

If you follow all the linked sources on the thread that might be a short term need. But you also see the moose are the food source inflating wolf N and drawing wolves up elevation where they encounter caribou. The answer might be to get rid of the moose tag lottery and instead open the season to all interested to hunting moose in the Selkirks.

Best
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PostSun Oct 02, 2016 3:48 pm 
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^ problem there is that it's the caribou that are the "endangered" species - not the moose.
it's just a little sliver of real estate occupied by caribou on the US side - most of that population is well north in BC.

(not even sure there are moose that far south anyway.)

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PostSun Oct 02, 2016 3:57 pm 
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Moose are living in the suburbs of Spokane. A friend sent a picture of one one a hot day in her koi fountain. A mile or two west of Whitworth College.
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Conrad
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PostSun Oct 02, 2016 4:36 pm 
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I've seen moose in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness SE of Lewiston, on our property near Moscow several times, and a road kill near Moscow frown.gif . I think they're pretty widespread in Idaho.
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