Oregon Introduces Online Elk Hoof Disease Reporting

Hunters have been turning up elk with deformed hooves in southwest Washington for nearly 10 years. In the past six years or so, the numbers of those reports have increased. The first reports of elk hoof deformities in Oregon were reported this summer,The Oregonian reported.

This week the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced an online reporting system to make it easier for hunters to report elk with deformed hooves, so that the department can track the deformities in northwestern Oregon. The online form also requests that the hunter take pictures of the hooves, wrap them in plastic bags and store them in a cool place for further examination later.

For many years, the cause of the elk hoof deformities was a mystery. Today the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife believes that treponemes, spiral-shaped bacteria, likely cause the disease, according to the article in The Oregonian. Livestock have a similar disease, the article says.

Read the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release, here.
Read the August article from The Oregonian, here.

EHD in Deer in Oregon

090914_EHD_confirmed_black-tailed_deer_300Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) has been confirmed as the cause of death in over 100 deer in southwestern Oregon, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced last week. EHD had not been observed in this region of the state before. The finding was confirmed by Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

EHD is transmitted by gnats and causes disease in both deer and livestock. In this case, the diseased deer were black-tailed deer.

There have also been reports of more than 200 dead deer in two counties that are south of the EHD site, the press release says, but those deer where shown to have Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD), which is common in the area and spread through nose to nose contact.

Read the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) release here.

Photo: This black-tailed deer, which appears fatigued, died just a few days after this photo was taken. It was one of the deer that later tested positive for EHD. -Photo by ODFW-

Updated Prohibited Species List in Oregon

Some reptiles and amphibians are off, and two otter species are on. The Associated Press reported this week that the Oregon Wildlife Integrity Program has updated its list of prohibited species in a three-year long process. The Wildlife Integrity Program is part of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In some states prohibited species are handled by the department of agriculture or the department of commerce.

The reptiles and amphibians taken off the list are not considered a risk of competing or surviving in Oregon if they escape. Three other amphibian species were kept on the list because they do pose a risk.

The two otters prohibited are the eastern subspecies of North American river otter, and the Asian small-clawed otter.

Read the Associated Press article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for the specific species.

Oregon Fish Biologists in Helicopter Crash

Three people were injured when a helicopter carrying two Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists on a salmon spawning ground survey hit a power line and crashed into the river they were surveying on Monday, Oct. 28. None of the injuries were life-threatening, reports said.

News reports say that the pilot was airlifted the hospital and is now in fair condition. The assistant district fisheries biologist, Holly Huchko, suffered a broken back and is in intensive care. Eric Himmelreich, a fisheries habitat biologist, broke two vertebrae in the crash and is now in good condition.

Read the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release here.
The KPIC reports contains a video of the helicopter in the river.
The Mail Tribune article focuses on the helicopter.
The Douglas County News-Review has the most detailed report.

Northern Rocky Mtn. Wolf Population Is Down

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 Annual Report for the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Gray Wolf Population shows fewer wolves in more packs. The overall decrease in the number of wolves is seven percent, the report found. It’s the first decrease in wolf population since wolf collaringrestoration efforts in the region began.

An Associated Press story that ran in the Helena (Montana) Independent Press and elsewhere noted that wolf populations were down 16 percent from 2011 in Wyoming, four percent in Montana and eight percent in Idaho. There were population gains in eastern Washington and eastern Oregon, the article says.

An article in the Spokane Spokesman-Review sites a slightly different number, an 11 percent decrease, and says that state wildlife managers had hoped for a larger decrease in the population.

Read the 2012 Annual Report for the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Gray Wolf Population here. (13-page PDF)
Read the US Fish and Wildlife Service press release here. (It is a less a summary of the report than support for current management strategies.)

Read the AP story in the Helena Independent Record, here.
Read the Spokane Spokesman-Review article, here.

Montana Wolf Management Advisory Council also met on the same day the report was released. It suggested a bounty system and creating a list of trappers among other things. Read the article in the [Montana] Missoulian, here.

Photo: National Elk Refuge biologist Eric Cole removes a whisker from a male yearling wolf. The sample can be used for a sample isotope analysis to learn about the animal’s diet. Credit: Lori Iverson / USFWS

Controlling Invasive Bullfrogs

bullfrogIn the Pacific Northwest, it is not unusual to try to kill off invasive bullfrogs by drawing down managed wetlands in imitation of ephemeral wetlands, a paper in The Journal of Wildlife Management says. Because the bullfrogs over-winter as tadpoles, the idea is to remove that over-wintering habitat.

However, the paper notes, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, bullfrogs were observed metamorphosing after just four months. Some frogs can speed up their metamorphosis in response to a wetland that is drying out, can bullfrogs do this as well? If they could, this would be bad news for the invasive species control technique.

The study took bullfrog tadpoles from both ephemeral and permanent wetlands and subjected them to various regimes of water and lack of water. The study found that the bullfrog tadpoles did not speed up their metamorphosis in response to drying wetlands, but they did show a lot of variety in how long they took to mature.

The paper concluded that drawing down managed wetlands won’t cause bullfrog tadpoles to metamorphose faster, but that some bullfrogs may survive the draw-down because of the natural variability in the amount of time it takes them to become frogs.

Find the Journal of Wildlife Management article here. Reading it requires a fee or a subscription.

Wolf News

Generally we don’t cover wolves because the news has more to do with politics than with scientific research. However, wolves have been in the news a lot these last few months, as several states had their first wolf hunting seasons, and state wildlife departments play a starring role, so it makes sense to at least round-up some of these stories. Fittingly, the first one is:

Minnesota wolf management is based on sound science and conservation principles
In response to a petition to stop the state’s first wolf hunt, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued this press release. (Press release)

Wolves kill bear hounds in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources notices aren’t on-line, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a similar notice. Find the link to the records mentioned, here.

Wolf season closes in one of Montana’s management districts
(Flathead Beacon)

Wyoming wolf hunt began Oct. 1
(Wyoming Star Tribune)

Fish and Game Commission Vote Clears Way for Further Study of Wolf Status
The California Fish and Game Commission will perform a 12-month status review of the gray wolf before deciding if it warranted endangered species status. (Press release)

Mexican Wolf Not a Subspecies, Feds Say
WildEarth Guardians press release, here.
Federal Register, here.

Guarding Sheep to Save Wolves
A New York Times article on a Defenders of Wildlife program to use nonlethal deterrents to keep wolves away from sheep.

News from the Wyoming wolf hunt
(Jackson Hole Daily)

Classes preach caution during Montana’s first trapping season
(Missoula Independent)

Hunters ready for 1st wolf hunts in Wis., Minn.
(Associated Press/Seattle Times)
(Also, Wisc. hunt in Chippawa Herald)

Wolves play a role in Okanogan County (Washington) elections
(Wenatchee World)

Wildlife groups step up to stop [Minnesota] wolf hunts
(Minnesota Daily)

Big mamas help wolf pups thrive [in Yellowstone]
(Billings Gazette)

Oregon wolf collaring and depredation records
(Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Minnesota DNR studies wolf behavior as hunting season approaches
(Minnesota Public Radio)

Recent killing in Washington reignites wolves-livestock debate
(AP/Bellingham Herald)

Photo of gray wolf by Gary Kramer, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service

Research Round-up

Earlier this summer, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologists banded 15 peregrine falcon chicks from five nests in western New York State. The birds are part of the growing peregrine population in the state.

Read the NYS DEC press release here.

The California Department of Fish and Game recently caught and captured 10 female deer as part of a study of habitat usage along I-280 in the San Francisco region. The information collected is part of an 18-month study that will allow scientists suggest ways to keep deer off the busy roadway.

Read the California DFG press release here.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that a recent sampling did not find Asian carp in western Lake Erie. A week of electrofishing and gill-netting did not turn up Asian carp. The survey was conducted because last summer, DNA samples revealed the presence of the invasive carp.

Read a press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources here.

The Bend (Ore.) Bulletin reports that wildlife biologists will set out camera traps in the Cascade mountains hoping to catch a glimpse of wolverines, which are listed as threatened in the state.

Read the article in the Bend Bulletin here.

Photo: Wildlife Biologists process a sedated deer for the I-280 deer study courtesy of California Department of Fish and Game

New Spider Species Found in Oregon

In 2010 scientists found unusual spiders in caves in southwestern Oregon. This month they described those spiders as a new genus and a new species: Trogloraptor marchingtoni. The species was described in the journal ZooKeys (and in this case “open access” doesn’t mean free access to the journal. You must pony up 33 Euros to read the article.

The abstract says that spiders in this genus are “known only from caves and old growth forest understory in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of Oregon and California.”

Read ScienceNOW from AAAS for a great photo and a brief summary of the discovery.

If you can’t get enough of new spider species news, all the usual suspects have a news story on this species:
Scientific American

Here A Pig, There A Pig

Old MacDonald never had it so good with his own domestic pigs. But if he has a farm in the Northwestern US, he may soon regret the success of feral swine, which have become a big problem in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

That has led those three states to create the “Squeal on Pigs” campaign to encourage hunters and others to report feral swine sightings. Local newspaper coverage (see below) reports a toll-free phone number for reporting the swine, but no info on a website for further info.

Read the article in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, here.
Read the Idaho Statesman article, here.

More info from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, here.

Of course, knowing how many feral swine you have in your state and whether that number is growing or declining is always an issue. “Squeal on Pigs” is one solution, but another is presented in the June issue of Wildlife Biology. European researchers have had success using DNA from fecal samples to model a feral swine population.

Read more in Wildlife Biology. (Subscription or fee required for full article.)

Photo: A feral swine piglet.