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Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
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August 26, 1982     Cheney Free Press
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August 26, 1982
 

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Thursday, August 26, 1982 Cheney Free Press Wildlife Refuge agement enhances waterfowl productivity Page 1A tllU.un young signet cattails our airboat. As- Jack Hagan Smiling with relief grey-colored e's still alive," said switching off the as to allow rest of my film. he'll come up and the young :Still Unable to fly. It tried diving our from and Coot (mud- enough to band," and Wildlife he re-adjusted his start the grown Trumpeter we swung back 0 continue with the times a summer, the Turnbull Wild- Washington any lakes as part pro- y toward habits for that par- have an oppor- a green over the the lake's shore- lefuge, located but SOuth of Cheney, of basalt Originally estab- Pranklin D. Roose- 100-plus lakes, annually provide a grating producing over of various species of birds, including game birds and the 27-square- which are about species of water- rare Trumpeter area's greatest the first only native swan .Young Trumpe- to eStablishing a new the large birds. the Red Rocks Refuge, which Montana/Idaho of 1976. That feeding at Wins- resulting in the next 0t come back," a steady decline only two pair of which only nest. Long Lake, in the to hatch out a "Swans have trouble with fertility," commented Hagan as we loaded the airboat onto the trailer and prepared to bounce our way through the rough timber to the next lake to be surveyed. Driving along, Hagan commented on other dangers that threaten young and old swans--as well as other waterfowl in general. One mature male swan, he noted, was found dead a few years ago, the victim of an inflammed gizzard. Upon ex- amination by the refuge's biologists, James Rees, who currently is working out of Othello, Wash., for the Fish and Wildlife service, the swan was found to swim into "toolies" or other marsh grass, Once, Hagan recounted, a game official had to climb to the top of a nearby pine in order to radio directions to the men in the airboat. Although the men often were within a few yards of the big bird, they were unable to see it through the tall grass. Hagan has been located at Turnbull for almost five years, coming out of the Southeastern United States where, among other projects, he was involved in the Red Wolf Recovery Program. Now, instead of worrying about East- ern Timber Rattlers or alligators, he watches out for badgers and Hereford Young swan This young swan was the only such signet to hatch in the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge near Cheney this spring. The young bird and its parents reside on Long Lake within the refuge, with another pair also living on the south edge of the refuge. be full of staples and paperclips. "They pick up anything that is bright," said Hagan. In another instance, Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) workers on the refuge tried in vain to nurse back to health a young swan infested with birdlice. (Federal budget cuts have since put an end to the YACC program.) Last season, two pair of swan suc- cessfully hatched five young swans, but only three lived to migrate last fall. "Our biggest problem is getting the swans to return," noted Hagan, saying few of the swans produced at the refuge ever returned to nest themselves. Banding of the swans is done while the swans are molting and unable to fly. Once captured, they offer little resis- tance. The trick, though, is in cap- turing the swans. Using the airboat, the swans generally can be captured. Dif- ficulty occurs, though, when swans bulls, both of which have been known to chase an unsuspecting game biologist. Currently, the refuge is studying the effects of grazing within the refuge. Cattle are run in the areas otherwise restricted to human access. Fire roads are bulldozed throughout the refuge for fire-fighting purposes, as well as for general access for coyote and refuge personnel. Maintaining a refuge for waterfowl means carrying on a management program that includes the building of small dams, islands and other water-control structures. When marshes, over the course of many years, "silt up", Refuge Main- tenance Supervisor Shorty Cheerers takes his "cat" and starts cleaning out channels and making islands. The islands are important in providing nesting sites for geese and ducks, away from coyotes and the occassional pre- dation by raccoons, skunks and bad- gers. Hagan said it is thought that the coyotes help to keep the number of raccoons down. Trapping no longer is permitted in the marshes and probably would re- quire an environmental impact state- ment if it was, commented Hagan Thus, muskrats currently are at a high population level and show signs of stress. Hagen noted that several dead "rats" had been picked up by refuge volunteers, local residents who are willing to assist with many of the surveys and other work on the refuge. "They (the volunteers) are our un- sung heroes," said Hagan. Besides Hagen and Cheevers, the refuge's only other full-time staff person is Manager Don White. Part- time staff positions number only two and are held by Barry Whitehill and Dan Booth. As far as the waterfowl survey is concerned, Hagan said he looks for numbers and sizes of broods, recording his data into a tape recorder as he flys around the lake in his airboats. A total of 10 lakes surveyed by boat, and formulas are applied to generate popu- lation "trend" figures. Generally, duck population and pro- duction is up this year over last, according to Hagan, noting that water levels are higher this summer as the result of a return to a normal snowfall this past winter. Besides their interest in swans, the personnel at the Turnbull refuge are particularly interested in studying population of redhead ducks. Last year, according to Hagan, some 1,476 young redhead were produced. Redheads, he continued, are different than other ducks in that they tend to hatch their young in many of the refuge's smaller ponds. That accounted for why we saw but only one brood of young redheads on the three lakes we surveyed that particular morning. The one brood that was spotted consisted of ducklings that were but a few days old, which in early August means they may have a hard time if winter arrives early. Redheads generally move to the larger lakes after the young birds get older, Hagan said. Currently, the Ballinger marsh, located near Long Lake, is being re-excavated at the refuge. Ballinger is a seasonal meadow, 80 percent dry in most years by early August. After work is completed, Ballinger will become a semi-permanent lake, supporting aquatic vegetation. According to a marsh management plan written by Biologist Rees in 1980, Ballinger could enhance redhead production at the refuge. It already is bordered by two lakes that are producers of redheads and other diving ducks. "Based on past studies, this narsh could produce three to five broods of redheads annually, as well as other diving ducks, where none presently are produced," wrote Rees. Besides its works in managing marshes for waterfowl and surveying other wildlife common to the refuge, Turnbull Refuge managers also pro- vide an ecological education classroom for many school groups visiting from Cheney and other nearby communities. A public viewing trail in one portion of the refuge often is frequented by local bir0 groups and hikers. No picnicking is encouraged. Federation ulatory reform' threatens season pro- reform,, legislation seasons for waterfowl and bUnter interests, National Wildlife to its affiliate state and three Presi- the 4.2-million must "do every- Stop', passage of that "red tape" as- of regula- "but this far more than gut some of in the coun- reform bill is es- because raost damage-- eStablish hunting in the pre- the regula- because of their and environ- ;. This review, havoc with the seasons. As it of hunting only days of the seasons. to an already pro- delay or Hair said that a recent memoran- dtim circulated within the U.S. Depart- ment of the Interior details the harm to migratory bird bunting that could be caused by the bills, presenting, Hair said, "another compelling reason" to oppose the legislation. The Federation has asked other conservation organizations, including the Izaak Walton League of America, the Wildlife Management Institute, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., and the Inter- national Association of Game and Fish Agencies, to join in the effort to block the bills. The Senate has already passed a regulatory reform bill (S.1080). In the House of Representative, HR. 746, is awaiting action by the Rules Commit- tee before going to the full House for action. The establishment of hunting seasons begins with an extensive survey of migratory bird populations conducted by the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico and by state conservation agencies. Consultations also are conducted with four separate state-federal flyway councils. Out of the process come determinations of bird populations and other species chara- teristics which are used to set bag limits and season lengths. Allowing Congress to review and perhaps change hunting season regula- tions could result in "all kinds of horror stories," said Hair. "Seasons could be delayed or closed altogether, bag limits could be tinkered with, and anti-hunting interests would have greater oppor- tunities to legally interfere with sea- sons," he said. "The adverse impacts- on wildlife and on sportsmen--could be substantial. And there's much doubt as to whether an ill-defined emergency provisions in these bills would over- come the large problems that exist." State to drop fish stamp State Game Director Frank Lockard has announced that the Game Depart- ment will recommend to the Game Commission that anglers not be re- quired to buy a $6 warmwater fishing stamp in 1983. The Commission will make a final decision on the matter at their August meeting in Spokane. Lockard said the decision to recommend the stamp not be implemented in 1963 was influenced greatly by the overwhelmingly nega- tive response to the stamp that surfaced at a series of public meet- ings held around the state earlier this year. "The warmwater stamp as passed by the State Legislature was not quite what we envisioned and not what the bass clubs wanted," said Lockard. The stamp idea originally had the support of fishing clubs. Lockard said the fee was set too high and it would not have been equitable to place an undue burden on warmwater anglers. '"In fairness to all anglers," he said, "our recommendation in August will be that no waters be designated (as requiring the stamp.)" Lockard said the department wanted more time to confer with the fishing clubs interested in the new stamp before coming back to the commission. The commissioners present at the Tacoma meeting agreed to defer any action on the warmwater stamp until the August meeting. Recording TURNBULL N.W.R. Jack Hagen, assistant manager st the Tumbull Wildlife Refuge, uses a tape recorder to record Information on duck broods while skimming lakes in an slrboat. Just ducky Plaza c photos by Tom Thrun Once thought to be rare, Trumpeter Swans slowly are increasing In Aladm and in refuges In the Western United States. Their small relative, the Whistling Swan, is more common and Increasing. This is a common sight on many of the secluded lakes on the TumbuII Wildlife Refuge. Some 16 to 17 species of waterfowl commonly are found within the refuge's 14,000 acres, with mallards, teal, redheads, coot (mudhen) and grebes having higher populations. Geese also are found in good numbers. National Hunting & Fishing Day September 25,1982