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Discovering Wildlife Lecture Series comes to valley

A nonprofit group is bringing its popular lecture series on wildlife issues to the Rogue Valley next week.

Oregon Wildlife, which used to be the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, will join forces with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in the expansion of the Discovering Wildlife Lecture Series that has been running in recent years in Portland.

The monthly series, which also will start this year in Bend, is another avenue for residents to learn more about the fish and wildlife in their region.

"This is really the first time they've gone out of Portland and we were lucky enough to land three of them," says Chuck Smith, an Oregon Wildlife member in Medford.

"It's important to give local people local information," Smith says.

The local series kicks off with Dan VanDyke, the ODFW's Rogue District fish biologist, who will talk about the impact that removal of Savage Rapids and Gold Ray dams from the Rogue River have on migrating native fish, such as salmon and steelhead.

Savage Rapids Dam was removed from the Rogue River in 2009, and Gold Ray Dam a year later.

VanDyke's talk also will delve into ongoing stewardship projects throughout the Rogue Basin. VanDyke will offer an update on the Rogue's chinook runs.

The series continues Feb. 25 with a talk on Rogue Valley black-tailed deer migration patterns. Unlike whitetail deer present in most of the United States, blacktails in Western Oregon are highly migratory as they move from high-elevation summer range to lower elevation winter range annually.

On March 25, the talk will be on Pacific fishers and the effort to survey them in Southern Oregon.

Local ODFW biologists recently completed a three-year study on the genetic makeup of Pacific fishers believed to be living in isolated pockets of forest habitat in the Siskiyou and Cascade ranges. The Siskiyou Mountains hold a remnant population of native fishers, while the Cascades of eastern Jackson County are home to a group created when animals from Minnesota were introduced there in the 1960s.

The presentations will be at the Mace Watchable Wildlife Memorial Center at the Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point.

Presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. and admission is $5, but they are free to Oregon Wildlife members.

To register, go to Oregon Wildlife's website at www.owhf.org and click on Discovering Wildlife Lecture Series.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.