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Elk Head CONSERVATION
Native fish, wildlife and their habitat
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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work
Snowy owl
A snowy owl near Burns, in December 2011. Snowy owls live in the arctic and are only rare winter visitors to the state.
- Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp -
Click to Enlarge Photo
Feral Swine w/collar
A feral swine being released after biologists fitted it with a GPS collar.
Click to Enlarge Photo
Swine trap
Feral swine enter a baited trap.
Click to Enlarge Photo
Rooting Damage
Rototiller-like damage indicates the presence of feral swine.
Click to Enlarge Photo

January 2012

Light returns. Snowy owls come to visit. Feral swine won’t go away. Scientists are mapping the wild west, and a wildlife biologist leaves a legacy of love of wildlife to all Oregonians.

CONTENTS

The Fight against Feral Swine
Hunting Feral Swine
Putting Western Wildlife on the Map
Oregon’s Awesome Owls
Birder and Biologist Dave Marshall Leaves an Enduring Legacy
Conservation Stamp Art Contest: Winner gets $3000
One Small Thing

the fight against feral swine

The feral swine population in Oregon is growing. Although hard to pin down, ODFW Invasive Species Coordinator Rick Boatner estimates it is between 1,000 and 5,000.

“Feral swine are hard to find, hard to count, hard to hunt,” said Boatner, who has been working to eradicate the population for a number of years. “They have a keen sense of hearing, a keen sense of smell—once they sense any human presence in an area, they take off, and despite their appearance, they are very fast.  They can cover 11 miles as the crow flies in 24 hours.”

“The good thing is that we are having success trapping them. Right now, we are working with eight private landowners and have 15 traps out,” he said. “Once people see the damage they do, they want to get rid of them.”

Feral swine, also called wild pigs or wild boars, have been reported in 17 counties in Oregon, but are concentrated in the central and southwest regions of the state. Enormously destructive, they can rip through a hillside, field or stream bank overnight. Less obvious is the damage they inflict on native wildlife through depredation and disease.

Josh Thompson, Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation planner, is also concerned about the effects feral swine have on water quality. “They introduce bacteria and parasites into streams, and they are really hard on riparian areas and wetland habitat. We’ve had them tear up enhancement projects.”

Thompson works with Boatner and a host of partners to assist private landowners who want to get wild pigs off their properties. They use trapping and aerial gunning as well as fitting pigs with GPS collars to track them.

Through the collaring project, they learned that one of the pigs has a home range of 10,000 acres. “That’s a huge area,” said Boatner.

Adding to the problem, feral swine reproduce rapidly. To keep the population stable, 70 percent of it must be removed every year.

“It’s a battle we have to win,” said Boatner. “We have only to look at states like Texas and California to see the millions of dollars they spend every year to try and manage the negative effects.”

Funding for feral swine eradication projects is often hard to come by and requires many partners and volunteers. Fact sheets and landowner information is available in the Invasive Species section of ODFW’s website. Contact Rick.

HUNTING FERAL SWINE

Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species coordinator, gets a lot of calls from hunters interested in hunting feral swine, and he does have a few tips for them.

“We want to eradicate feral swine and hunters can help, but it is a challenge. They are tough animals to hunt,” Boatner said. “They hide themselves really well and will become nocturnal and move with hunting pressure.”

On public land, he recommends hunters look for the rototiller-like damage near river or creek bottoms that is indicative of swine presence and then look for the pigs. “It’s something you can do when you are out hunting another animal.”

He does not know of any private landowners who are looking for assistance from the public to remove feral swine. 

In Oregon, it is illegal to sell, or offer for sale, a hunt for feral swine on public or private lands.Hunting feral swine.

Putting western wildlife on the map

Antelope
Fish and wildlife have to be able to move across landscapes to find food, water, shelter and mates.
Pronghorn photo by Dave Budeau.
Click to Enlarge Photo

In June 2008, the Western Governors Association, which represents 19 states, launched its Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Habitat Initiative. The goal is to identify and map important wildlife habitats across the west with a focus on wildlife corridors, areas that connect habitats so fish and wildlife can move across the landscape.

In 2010, a newly formed Wildlife Council and technical team began development of a region-wide mapping tool called the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool or CHAT. The Council will also oversee development of similar state-based decision support systems.

Several states have already launched their habitat DSS systems, including Montana, Arizona and Washington, and others are working to identify crucial habitat and associated species and to develop the mapping systems, which will eventually dovetail with other state and regional efforts.

Oregon’s version of the mapping tool, the Oregon Decision Support System, is being created under the direction of ODFW. Planning for data collection, standardization and management; map layer acquisition; and Web portal production is underway. The DSS mapping tool is slated to be available in 2013; it will be enhanced and updated continuously.

The combined mapping efforts will provide a picture of critical wildlife habitat that can be used by state and federal agencies, land managers, project planners, organizations and the public. For example, the Bureau of Land Management will use state- and regional-level CHATs as a principal source to inform land use planning, as well as related natural resource decisions on public lands. 

Holly Michael, ODFW Conservation Policy coordinator, and Julie Schneider, Habitat Connectivity biologist, are leading the effort, which will involve collaboration with many state and federal agencies. Contact Holly. Contact Julie.

Western Governors Initiative on Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Habitat. BLM to Use State, Regional Data in Identifying Wildlife Corridors, Crucial Habitat.

Flammulated Owl
The flammulated owl lives east of the Cascade Mountains. Photo of young owl by Dave Menke, USFWS.
Click to Enlarge Photo

OREGON’S AWESOME OWLS

Oregon’s owls range from the tiny sparrow-sized northern pygmy owl to the great horned owl with its powerful talons to that rare visitor from the Arctic, the snowy owl. In all, the state is home to 14 species of owls. To learn more about them, see ODFW’s new fact sheet, Whooooo Am I?  

Designed primarily for kids, it is the third in a series of flyers that is popular with Oregonians of all ages. The fact sheet provides a description and photograph of each of Oregon’s 14 owl species, tells where they live and which species are in need of conservation. The flyer is available in the Living with Wildlife section of the ODFW website. Other flyers include Batty for Bats and Frogs are Cool.

BIRDER AND BIOLOGIST DAVE MARSHALL LEAVES AN ENDURING LEGACY

When Portland scientist Dave Marshall died Nov. 22, 2011 at 85, he left a legacy that in terms of fish and wildlife conservation cannot be overstated. He was an avid researcher and published more than 50 scientific articles and reports, including pioneering work on black-backed woodpeckers, northern goshawk and white-headed woodpecker. He was the senior editor of Birds of Oregon: A General Reference published in 2003. In 1986, he wrote Oregon’s first nongame wildlife plan for ODFW.

In addition to his scholarly work, Marshall was a strong advocate for species and habitat conservation. His career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed him to take a leadership role when the Endangered Species Act was established in 1973, leading work on bird and mammal listings. He was a driving force behind the establishment of William L. Finley, Ankeny and Baskett Slough National Wildlife refuges in the Willamette Valley, and a founding member of the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

“Dave was a man who could research the smallest details of a species and yet comprehend the big picture of our landscapes,” said Holly Michael, ODFW Conservation Policy coordinator. “He saw the need for habitat conservation and worked tirelessly to make it happen. He never did retire.”

See Remembering David Marshall, Dean of Oregon Birders, Audubon Board Member Emeritus Dave Marshall Dies, The Wildlife Society

StampConservation Stamp ART CONTEST: Winner gets $3000

Break out the art supplies: Entries in the Habitat Conservation Stamp art contest are due on Feb. 29, 2012 at 5 p.m.. The winning artist will receive $3000.

Artwork must feature one of the fish or wildlife species identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy in its respective Strategy habitat. Some examples: An artist could depict a short-eared owl in a grassland, a tufted puffin on an offshore refuge rock, a yellow-legged frog in a slow-moving stream or an acorn woodpecker in an oak woodland.

To see all of the Strategy species and habitat associations, see the Conservation Summaries of Strategies Species. In the Habitat section, find a description of habitats.

Download a copy of the announcement, rules and entry form from the ODFW website.

ONE SMALL THING

Build a bird or a bat house. It is a great late winter project. You can buy a kit or build one from a plan. Oregon State Extension (pdf) has one on its website.

PAST ISSUES OF THE NEWSLETTER

On the Ground newsletter archives

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 voluntary, 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

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