Mike Harrington, ODFW fish biologist, holding an Oregon Spotted Frog, he caught during a survey. ODFW photo. Click to Enlarge Photo
Biologists have been concerned about the Oregon spotted frog for decades. In 1993, it was designated as a Candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated an evaluation to determine whether to list it as threatened or endangered.
Currently, an inter-agency working group comprised of representatives from the USFWS and partners is meeting to compile information on the biology and status of the species. The USFWS is expected to make a determination regarding ESA status in May 2014.
“Today, Oregon spotted frogs are absent from most of their historic range,” said Simon Wray, ODFW Conservation biologist and member of the working group. “In Oregon, they are located primarily on the east slope of the Cascades. They used to be fairly common in the Willamette Valley, but no more.”
Loss and alteration of favored marsh habitat; nonnative frogs, fish and vegetation; and flood control management have contributed to the decline of the frog and other amphibians.
“Oregon spotted frogs are our most aquatic frogs. They spend the majority of their time in water,” said Wray. “They like large wetlands and inundated flood plains with a permanent water body nearby—habitat features that are disappearing.
"In Oregon, 90 percent of the known populations are on public land. Their strongholds are in Deschutes, Klamath, Lane and Wasco counties, and some of it is habitat we could conserve or restore.”
Christopher Pearl, US Geological Survey wildlife biologist, also sees some positives, “There remain at least a handful of Oregon spotted frog populations that appear stable. In several cases, the species has responded pretty quickly to habitat restoration. Recent surveys have found a few new sites in Oregon and Washington, so it is possible that there are existing populations that we don’t know about.
"There are a number of actions that can be taken to help the species. One key is restoration of permanent and ephemeral wetlands in and near existing Oregon spotted frog sites.”
The Oregon spotted frog is named for the black spots that cover its head, back, sides and legs. Adults range from brown to reddish brown. Currently, this species inhabits wetland habitats in southeast British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. It is believed to have been extirpated from California. It is an Oregon Conservation Strategy species of conservation concern.
Working group partners include USFWS, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Restored grassland at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area in the spring of 2012. David Stroppel, ODFW photo
Click to Enlarge Photo
Restored wetlands support birds and butterflies
ODFW’s E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area in Monmouth is home to Kincaid’s lupine and Nelson’s checkermallow, grassland plants federally listed as threatened, as well as the Fender’s blue butterfly, which was listed as endangered in 2000. In an effort to reestablish and expand existing wetlands and wet prairies to benefit these species and a host of other grassland birds, pollinators and mammals, staff is working on two restoration projects, totaling about 80 acres.
“Our biggest problem is the deeply entrenched invasive weeds,” said Kyle Martin, wildlife area manager. “We are finally making some progress, but Scotch broom and teasel have long seed lives. It has taken us several years to make headway, but last year, we were able to seed about half of the area.
“It’s very time-consuming process, but when we get ahead of the invasives, we will have habitat for a number of our rare Willamette Valley plant and animal species. We may even have enough habitat for streaked horn larks.”
Work is being done by E.E. Wilson Wildlife Management Area staff with the help of the Institute for Applied Ecology. The work is funded in part by the Bonneville Power Administration through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program.
Jamie McFadden-Hiller snowshoeing into a bait camera station. ODFW photo. Click to Enlarge Photo
searching for wolverines in the high cascades
Jamie McFadden-Hiller spends most winter days in the higher elevations. Snowshoes, a locator beacon, survival gear, food and water are among her workday essentials. Since October, she and her husband, Tim Hiller, ODFW Carnivore-Furbearer coordinator, have been constructing and monitoring camera bait stations in remote snow-covered areas of the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Three Sisters wilderness areas. Their target is the North American wolverine, a member of the weasel family thought to have been extirpated from Oregon since 1936 until 1965 when a male of the species was killed on Three Fingered Jack in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area.
Over the next 46 years, ODFW documented only four reports of wolverines. Then in 2011, Researcher Audrey Magoun, working in Wallowa County, got the first photograph of a wolverine in the state. She photographed it again the next year as well as two other individuals.
“I expect some of the wolverines documented in Oregon were dispersers from Washington or Idaho,” said Hiller, “But, it is possible we have a self-sustaining population in the state.”
“The habitat conditions for wolverines are good in the Cascades, specifically in these wilderness areas, so I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we find one this year or next,” said McFadden-Hiller.
To date, cameras at the bait stations have photographed montane fox, martens, bobcats, black bears and northern flying squirrels. Other animals McFadden-Hiller expects to see as she monitors cameras are coyotes, cougars and weasels.
Forest Carnivore Research Project video
The researchers, aided by other ODFW and U.S. Forest Service biologists, will work until late spring when the snow pack dwindles. There are 20 camera bait stations to monitor and replenish with bait and more sites may be added as time and weather permit.
“It’s hard work especially when you are packing large baits while snowshoeing several miles through the snow,” said McFadden-Hiller. “But, if you are tracking wolverines, you have to go where they go. Occasionally, we have to decide whether poor weather or high avalanche-risk conditions make it unsafe for us to be in the field.”
The wolverine was listed as threatened by the Oregon Game Commission in 1975, grandfathered as a state threatened species (May 1987) and reaffirmed by rule in 1989. It became a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act on Dec. 14, 2010. Information from this study will be shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in an effort to aid with any federal listing.
The wolverine survey project is funded by Oregon Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Zoo, the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, the Wolverine Foundation, ODFW, and other donors. Wolverine video. Wolverine in Wallowa County.
Wenaha Pack pups. ODFW photo taken May 30, 2012 Click to Enlarge Photo
Wolf Update: Oregon’s wolf count for 2012 is 53 wolves, including seven packs and at least five breeding pairs. This is a minimum number. The wolf population in Oregon is determined each winter and is based on wolves that staff have verified through direct evidence―sightings, tracks, remote camera and footage. More information.
2012 Snowy Plover Survey Results: Survey results of the Pacific Coast western snowy plover indicate another successful year towards recovery of the species listed as threatened under both federal and state endangered species acts. The 2012 population count on the Oregon Coast showed 315 nests, the highest number of nests found in a given year. Approximately 173 chicks fledged from those nests, the highest number since monitoring began in 1990. While many variables figure into improved numbers, predator management and public support play a large role. More information.
Support nongame wildlife: Donate to the Nongame Wildlife Fund by writing Charitable Code # 19 in the charitable donation section of your 2012 Oregon State tax returns. Funds are used to support the 88 percent of the state’s wildlife that are not hunted or fished.
NEW: Climate Change and Oregon’s estuaries fact sheet
Climate change will bring new threats to Oregon’s estuaries and may intensify existing problems. Warming temperatures, rising sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and ocean acidification will all play major roles in shaping estuarine ecosystems for many decades or even centuries to come. A new ODFW fact sheet details issues and proposes approaches to conserving estuaries and their ecological values, including:
Protecting land upstream of important estuaries from development to allow these areas of habitat to move in response to climate change;
Improving management of watersheds that feed sediment and fresh water into estuaries to help counteract the effects of climate-related changes; and
Educating the public and decision-makers about the importance of limiting bulkheading and other kinds of shoreline armoring that limit the inland migration of estuaries in response to sea-level rise.
Using these and other climate change adaptation strategies, we can help estuary habitats and the fish and wildlife that live there adjust to changing conditions and be more resilient to current and future threats. Development of the fact sheet was funded by a Conservation Strategy Implementation Grant through the federal State Wildlife Grant Program.
Buy a 2013 Habitat Conservation Stamp: Support Wildlife
Your purchase of an ODFW Habitat Conservation Stamp helps native fish and wildlife and their habitats. Stamps cost $40 and include a free ODFW Wildlife Area Parking Pass (a $22 value). Proceeds are used for restoration of the native habitats that are home to the state’s fish and wildlife. The 2013 stamp features a kit fox by Rod Frederick of Bend.
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.
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