Message from the Board

September 2020

Tim Reynolds

In two highly publicized events during February of 2020, 96 pronghorn antelope were killed by train collisions near Hamer in Jefferson County. Mass mortality caused by train collisions is not a unique event at this site. Similar events occurred in 1985, 1986, 1992 and 2011. Such large losses of adult pronghorn antelope have a significant adverse effect on population size, and the recent events may account for as much as 50% of the herd that summers on the east side of Interstate-15.  Fencing along I-15 prevents these animals from accessing historic winter range west of the highway.  In July 2020 the East Idaho Chapter of Safari Club International was awarded a grant from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for a radio-collar study of pronghorn antelope which winter east of I-15 near Hamer.  Because Camas NWR was likely part of the historic winter range, Friends of Camas NWR, the Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance, and SCI provided matching funds for this research.  The focus of this study is to identify specific migration pathways and pinpoint areas hindering or interrupting migration.

Monies were used to purchase radio-collars and provide helicopter time for a net-gun capture operation conducted by IDF&G in late July.  Sixteen pronghorn were captured and collared in Shotgun Valley westward from Island Park Reservoir to Monida Pass; two more were captured south of Dubois just west of I-15.  The attached figure shows capture sites (solid colored circles with black dots) and movements during the first few days after capture (solid circles, no black dots).  Additional collars will be deployed this winter on pronghorn antelope near Hamer

New Motus Tower at Camas NWR

    By Karl Bohan

It has been estimated that N. America has 2.9 billion fewer birds now than it did in 1970 (Ken Rosenberg, Cornell Lab of Ornithology).  This finding, published in the journal Science, is startling.  It is also raising questions about migration corridors used by various avian species and the quality of habitat along these routes. 

The new Motus tower at Camas NWR is one of over 9OO towers in 31 countries set up to detect unique signals from individual birds that have previously been tagged as they fly through an area.  Information regarding date, time, and species is automatically recorded and transmitted to a central database that is shared for research and educational purposes.  Amazingly, the tags detected by a Motus tower can weigh as little as 0.15 grams, making it possible to tag and track not only birds, but dragonflies and butterflies as well.

Refuge Manager's Notes

Brian Wehausen, 

Camas National Wildlife Refuge August 19, 2020

The month of August has continued to be hot and dry at the Refuge.  Our upland vegetation has cured out for the most part and fire danger in and around the Refuge is high.  The spring moisture provided for plenty of plant growth which was needed and welcomed, but it also provides fuel for any fire starts that could happen.  We ask all visitors of the Refuge to be mindful of where they drive and or park vehicles.

August has been very hot and is impacting the amount of water we are able to hold in our wetlands.  We do have our pumps running to try and hold as much as we can, but would be nice if we got some help from mother nature.

With the water that is still out on the landscape good numbers of water remain on the wetlands around the auto-tour route.  Plenty of waterfowl to be seen recently as ducks and geese using the available water in good numbers. Refuge staff has notice and increase in Sandhill Crane numbers so it would appear we are in the early stages of the fall migration.  Interesting enough, good numbers of nighthawks can be seen out feeding all day the past couple of weeks.  Apparently, food resources are too plentiful to pass up and these birds are taking advantage.

Refuge personnel have been working on intense surveys for invasive plant species in different locations of the property.  Lots of diligent hours have been put in and we have discovered some invasive plants we did not know we had.  We are aggressively treating these areas so we can hopefully contain these areas to select small plots that we can eventually eliminate.  Staff just wrapped up Mourning dove banding efforts where 153 doves are now sporting new leg bands.  We also conducted a one morning effort to capture Trumpeter swans on Camas NWR.  In a successful morning we capture six of these large birds and placed collars on them.  Two collars are white tracking collars that gives us location information through the use of cellular towers, and four swans are sporting green collars with white letter and numbers.  If you see these green collared birds please attempt to read the number (example: R48) and report the sighting to the bird banding lab via the bird banding laboratory website.  Also starting up the effort for waterfowl banding.  If you see wire cages out on our wetlands the next few weeks these are traps we use to capture ducks so we can band them and get useful information on their movements.

Still seeing two moose on the Refuge, both cows and one has one calf and the other two.  They are most visible in the early morning or late evening in or around the Refuge wetlands.

What's New 

And the Winner Is!

     Annual Photo Contest

Grand Prize:

Patty Pickett

First Place:

Michael Chatt

Second Place:

Patricia Alexander Johnson

Third Place: 

Dave Spencer

Honorable Mention

Michael Wu




Friends of Camas NWR Inc. 
2150 E 2350 N
Hamer, ID 83425