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Elk Head WILDLIFE DIVISION
Oregon Conservation Strategy
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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

July 2008

On one of the long evenings of August, sometime around the full moon, watch the evening sky, just before darkness falls, and you may be rewarded with a look at some of Oregon’s fascinating bat species, many of which are in need of conservation. Learn more about them in the Oregon Conservation Strategy: Conservation Summaries for Strategy Species.

Bat
Bat Wing-span
Photo by Nick Myatt, ODFW
bat
A Bat in Hand
Photo by Nick Myatt, ODFW
Bat in Mist Net Trap
Photo by Nick Myatt, ODFW

Contents

NEW BAT WOMAN, SAME BAT PLACE

Keeping bat hours takes some getting used to, but ODFW biologist Jamie Nelson has adapted to the schedule.

“If you want to study bats, you have to be up when they are,” she said. “As it turns out, it’s really fun to work outdoors all night.”

Nelson is a surveyor for the Bat Grid project, a systematic inventory and monitoring of bats in Oregon and Washington. She works a set of predetermined grids in Baker and Union counties that are being studied over a ten-year period.

“We set up the mist nets and the recording equipment about 6 p.m. so we are ready to trap at sunset when the bats emerge,” she explained.

Once bats are caught in the finely woven mist nets, surveyors take a “bat in hand” and record sex, age, weight and reproductive status. Acoustic recordings are made to aid in species identification.

Nelson, who joined ODFW a year ago after completing her master’s degree at Oregon State University, has been interested in wildlife since she was a child living in the Los Padres Mountains of California. “I was always outside, hiking, watching birds and playing with bugs.”

Bat monitoring is one of the ODFW northeast region’s Conservation Strategy implementation projects. For information on the Bat Grid Project, visit the Western Bat Working Group website.

Contact Jamie, Jamie.nelson@state.or.us

PLOVERS OF THE INTERIOR

Usually when the spotlight shines on the western snowy plover in Oregon, it’s the coastal population that’s on stage. Listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, its numbers are tracked and habitat studied as conservationists try to ensure its tenuous foothold on the beach.

Although not exactly red-headed stepchildren, less is known about Oregon’s inland snowy plovers, which are not federally-listed but are state-listed as threatened. To learn more about them, the USFWS undertook a range-wide survey in the U.S. and Mexico.

“A consistent survey was really needed,” said Sue Thomas, USFWS regional shorebird biologist. “We have various data sets from previous years, but it’s like comparing apples and oranges as the methodologies are not standardized.”

In Oregon, surveys were done in 2007 at 12 sites in the eastern part of the state. Surveys this year concentrated on the Summer Lake, Harney Lake and Lake Abert areas in the south central part of the state. Sun-up on numerous hot June days found USFWS and ODFW staffers headed for predetermined grids in saline playas and wetlands, seeking the small shorebird—not at all an easy task. The snowy plover is well adapted to its environment.

“Part of the fascination with plovers is their subtlety,” said Thomas. “They can disappear almost completely into the habitat. Even their call is subtle.”

Thomas, herself, became fascinated with shorebirds as a child of the Atlantic Coast. She parlayed her early interest and education into a job with the Forest Service before going to work with the USFWS ten years ago.

Survey results are now being analyzed by the USFWS and USGS. The snowy plover is a Strategy species in the Coast Range and Northern Basin and Range ecoregions. For more information on plovers, visit the USFWS website.

Contact Sue, Sue_Thomas@fws.gov

BEAUTY IS THE BEAST

Invasive species are cunning. It's easy to see flowering blackberries reflected in a pond or a golden sea of yellow starthistle or an ivy-covered building as part of Oregon's landscape—because what you can't see is what's not there. When these aggressive invaders moved in, native plants disappeared and wildlife moved out.

What has been lost on the landscape was part of the discussion at the first Oregon Invasive Species Summit in July, but here was more focus on what can be done to keep Oregon's native landscapes intact.

“Portland is a bad bulletin board for invasive species,” said Portland County Commissioner Sam Adams. “I believe the battle can still be won, but we have to stop treading water.”

Adams is currently working with governmental groups and non-profits to draw up a plan of attack that includes removal of destructive species and banning the sale of invasives.

Other presenters at the day-long meeting included Mark Sytsma, Oregon Invasive Species Council chair; Dan Hilburn, Oregon Department of Agriculture; Lori Williams, Executive Director of the National Invasive Species Council; and John Randall, the Nature Conservancy.

Break-out sessions engaged participants in what organizers hope will become a larger conversation about combating invasive species across the state.

Mike Carrier, the governor's natural resource policy adviser, called for a baseline assessment of invasives in Oregon and agreed that while early detection and rapid response is critical, “boots-on-the-ground efforts are underfunded and don’t have the visibility they deserve.”

Carrier recognized Portland State University’s work with aquatic invaders, ODA’s weed management programs and Oregon Conservation Strategy implementation work as being part of the solution.

For information on the Oregon Invasive Species Council, visit their website.

Learn about invasive species in your area: Basin and Range, Blue Mountains,
Coast Range,
Columbia Plateau,
East Cascades,
Klamath Mountains,
West Cascades,
Willamette Valley

WILDLIFE CONNECTIONS

The Pacific Northwest Wildlife Connections Conference slated for Oct. 19-23 at the Oregon Zoo will focus on the importance of wildlife corridors across our landscapes and what can be done to maintain them.

The event kicks off on Sunday evening with a free presentation that is open to the public: The changing landscape of transportation: designing roads to conserve wildlife populations. Monday features an all-day symposium on wildlife connectivity which will cover how people can get involved in landscape-level issues. A road design workshop that includes a field trip and a workshop on transportation planning round out the week’s events.

For more information, visit the Oregon Zoo website or contact Audrey Hatch, Conservation Strategy Technical Projects manager, audrey.c.hatch@state.or.us, or Mindy Trask, ODOT Conservation Programs coordinator, Melinda.Trask@state.or.us

NEW BALD EAGLE NESTS SIGHTED ON LOWER COLUMBIA

When OSU researcher Frank Isaacs began counting bald eagles in 1978, there were only 57 known breeding pairs in Oregon and along the lower Columbia River. Today, there are about 550.

A recent aerial survey done on the lower Columbia River found 32 new nest trees with nesting success higher than the one-young-per-occupied-site goal set in The Pacific Bald Eagle Recovery Plan. This survey, however, was done in a new world order—a year ago the bald eagle was removed from the federal endangered species list.

“Proactive eagle management really paid off,” said Isaacs, senior faculty research assistant in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University.

Does he have any concerns about the delisting?

“I have no specific concerns about the eagle,” he said. “But I do have concerns about habitat protection and monitoring. While the eagle has proven to be more flexible in habitat choice than we thought 20 years ago, they do need the right habitat near open water to do well.”

Charlie Bruce, recently retired ODFW Threatened and Endangered Species coordinator agreed, “Suitable nesting and foraging habitat are key to maintaining healthy eagle populations into the future.”

Bruce, who has been involved in bald eagle recovery for thirty years, continues to work to remove the bald eagle from the state endangered species list.

“It’s an incredible success story,” Bruce said. “The comeback of the bald eagle represents a heroic effort by a host of individuals and agencies from across the country.”

Funding for this summer’s survey came from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hancock Forest Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Weyerhaeuser Company and Hillsboro Aviation.

The bald eagle remains protected from killing, injury and disturbance under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Contact Frank, isaacsf@onid.orst.edu

ONE SMALL THING

Get a free copy of GardenSmart Oregon: A Guide to Non-Invasive Plants and join in the fight against invasives by removing them from your yard and planting non-invasive plants. Booklets are available at 35 location (s)s around the state or you can download a pdf. Visit the Nature Conservancy’s website for more information.

ABOUT THE OREGON CONSERVATION STRATEGY

The Oregon Conservation Strategy offers a blueprint for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats through a non-regulatory, statewide approach to conservation. It was developed by ODFW with the help of a diverse coalition of Oregonians including scientists, conservation groups, landowners, extension services, anglers, hunters, and representatives from agriculture, forestry and rangelands. See past issues of the Strategy newsletter on the ODFW website.

 

For strategy information

Contact Michael Pope

For a copy of the Strategy

Contact Karen Buell at ODFW

Editor Contact Information

Meg Kenagy
Oregon Conservation Strategy Communications coordinator
(503) 947-6021
meg.b.kenagy@state.or.us


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