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Elk Head CONSERVATION
Native fish, wildlife and their habitat
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Bat Grid Inventory
Bat trapped in mist net as part of monitoring survey performed by the Bat Grid Inventory and Monitoring Group.
Photo courtesy of ODFW
On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

October 2009

It’s October–the time of bats and brooms and mice and …moose?

CONTENTS

Moose Move In
Go to Bat for Winged Mammals
Disease Strikes Bats When They Are Most Vulnerable
One Small Thing

Pat Matthews
ODFW wildlife biologist Pat Matthews with a member of the team that helped collar a moose in northeast Oregon.
Photo courtesy of ODFW
Click to enlarge

MOOSE MOVE IN

The first moose to come to Oregon wandered south from Washington or west from Idaho across the Palouse Prairie. They stayed to establish a herd in the Blue Mountains north of Elgin, and today there are an estimated 50 adults and calves in the area.

“Over the years, there have been sightings of individual animals, but it was only in about 2005 that we knew we had a resident herd,” said Pat Matthews, ODFW wildlife biologist, Wallowa County.

How many there are, is another question. Although moose have a distinctive appearance, keeping track of them isn’t all that easy. Generally solitary animals, they live in fairly remote areas. At first, counting the animals consisted of recording sightings by forest service workers and the occasional hunter. But, with the knowledge of a resident herd, ODFW biologists began formal aerial and ground survey work to try and get a better handle on the actual number of animals. A couple of years later, a project was initiated that included radio collaring a few adult animals to gather data important to species and habitat management—population status, calf survival, mortality, habitat use and seasonal movements.

“We conduct aerial surveys in the winter when the moose are in deep snow and easier to spot,” said Matthews. “During the winter of 2008, we radio collared several animals, which provides us with additional information. For instance, in the summer we can locate the collared individuals and determine if they are accompanied by calves. We can also learn a lot about how they use habitats by following them through the year.”

Moose
Moose are the largest ungulate in North America and yet have the ability to move quietly and gracefully through the thickest stand of timber.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

As a biologist, Matthews has long been drawn to the mystique of the moose, its size and appearance and its association with true backcountry wilderness.

”In a time when so many species are in decline, it’s exciting to see a species previously unknown in the state become established.”

Does he think moose have a future in Oregon?

Matthews didn’t hesitate. “Yes, definitely. We know that since European settlement, moose have naturally been expanding their range south. We have a lot of good habitat here and the moose are finding it on their own.”

As far habitat goes, it is believed that moose in Oregon will be largely dependent on riparian corridors and deciduous growth that occurs following active timber harvest, control burns, or natural fires, along with dense stands of mature conifer timber.

A number of organizations are involved in the moose project, hoping to gather information that will help secure their habitat so moose enjoy a long healthy residence in the state. Partners include the Umatilla National Forest, Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Blue Mountain Habitat Restoration Council and the Josephine, Yamhill, Capitol, Lincoln, Pioneer, Columbia, Rogue, Baker and Union Chapters of Oregon Hunters Association.

Oregon’s moose are Shira’s moose which are also found in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, southern British Columbia and in some areas of Utah, Colorado and Washington. If you see a moose, contact your local ODFW office. For more information on the Blue Mountain ecoregion, visit ODFW’s website. Contact Pat.

Bats of the Pacific Northwest
Bats of the Pacific Northwest.

GO TO BAT FOR WINGED MAMMALS

Bats are everywhere this month—on holiday decorations, costumes and cupcakes. But while the flying mammals’ creepy image is as healthy as ever, real bats aren’t doing so well; disease, habitat loss and human development are all threatening their survival.

To find out what you can do to help, take action by Friday, Oct. 30 and register for the bat conservation workshop that will be held at the Oregon Zoo on Nov. 3. Intended for professionals whose work affects bats (either directly or indirectly), including land and park managers, wildlife management officials, conservation groups, land-use consultants and contractors, health officials, researchers and educators, the workshop will focus on bat ecology, conservation issues in Oregon and practical recommendations for bat management.

Cost to attend the workshop is $30, which includes lunch and snacks. To register and see a detailed workshop schedule, visit the zoo website. The workshop is presented by the Oregon Zoo, ODFW, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

DISEASE STRIKES BATS WHEN THEY ARE MOST VULNERABLE

White-nose syndrome is killing bats in the eastern United States at an alarming rate. While it hasn’t arrived in Oregon, it is quickly spreading across the eastern U.S., and Oregon’s scientists are concerned.

bat
Big Brown Bat
- Photo by Michelle Slosser-

“At the current rate of bat-to-bat spread, white-nose syndrome is expected to reach the western U.S. sooner than later. Unfortunately, people who have visited infected sites in the east could spread the disease to western sites long before bats get the chance,” said Pat Ormsbee, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management bat specialist. “WNS surveillance, education and prevention are critical in Oregon―we’ll never have more power to do something about WNS than before it arrives.”

Most Oregon bats hibernate in secluded, cold locations that allow them to lower their metabolism and conserve energy to get through the winter. The primary cause of WNS is a cold-environment fungus that thrives in the same temperature range as hibernating bats. Once infected, bats may demonstrate a white fuzzy growth on their nose, from which the disease is named. It’s thought that the fungus interrupts hibernation patterns and causes bats to increase their normal number of winter arousals from torpor forcing them to burn calories they can’t afford to use, depleting their fat reserves and causing them to starve.

There are a few things Oregonians can do to help. First, never disturb a bat colony. Bats are highly sensitive to disturbance when they gather in winter to hibernate and in summer to give birth. Bat colonies are found in buildings, under bridges, in attics and in mines and caves, which should be avoided. If you do enter a cave, decontaminate your clothing and equipment before entering another cave to avoid transferring any potential disease. Finally, notify your local ODFW office if you observe several dead bats in the same location. It is not necessary to report single bat deaths.

If you have been in a cave, follow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recommended decontamination procedure which is detailed on the Northeast Region website.

There are 15 species of bats in Oregon. Many of them are identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help. Learn more about them in the Conservation Summaries of Strategy Species section of the Strategy. For more information and a flyer on white-nose syndrome, visit the Western Bat Working Group website.

Fringed bat
Fringed bat. Photo, Michael Durham.
Click to enlarge

ONE SMALL THING

Learn about Oregon’s bats so next time you hear one of those batty myths, you can share your knowledge. See the Living with Wildlife: Bats flyer for more information (pdf).

PAST ISSUES OF THE NEWSLETTER

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ABOUT THE OREGON CONSERVATION STRATEGY

The Oregon Conservation Strategy provides a blueprint and action plan 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.

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

FOR PHOTOS OF THE PROJECTS
Contact Meg Kenagy

FOR STRATEGY INFORMATION
Contact Michael Pope

FOR A COPY OF THE STRATEGY
Contact Karen Buell at ODFW.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, please e-mail the editor. Note: The use of trade, firm, or corporation names and links in this publication is for the information of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.


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