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Restoration of Fishers to the North Cascades Begins!

State, federal, and partner biologists will release approximately 8 fishers Wednesday, December 5, in the Skagit River watershed of Ross Lake National Recreation Area, a unit of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, as part of an effort to restore the species to Washington State.

 

Video of the release at Newhalem in North Cascades National Park Service Complex by Institute Graduate M.Ed. student Carson Yach.

Fishers are about the size of a house cat and are members of the weasel family. They were eliminated from Washington by the mid-1900s through over-trapping and habitat loss. Fishers are currently listed as an endangered species by the state, and are being reviewed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. A voluntary fisher conservation program is available to private forest landowners that provides regulatory assurances should the species become listed. To date 49 landowners have enrolled 2.98 million acres in fisher conservation. Fisher reintroduction efforts occurred in recent years on the Olympic Peninsula and near Mount Rainier in the South Cascades.

“We are very excited to be working with federal, tribal, state, international, and other organizations to bring the fisher back to its historical range.” said Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich. “It has been a multi-year restoration effort in the state and we appreciate the supporters who make this possible.”

The fishers to be released were captured in Alberta, Canada as part of a collaborative project to reintroduce approximately 80 fishers to the North Cascades. They underwent veterinary checkups at the Calgary Zoo and were equipped with radio transmitters to track their movements over time. Conservation Northwest supports ongoing fisher monitoring with volunteers and remote cameras through its Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project.

In late 2015 and early 2016, 23 fishers, including 11 females and 12 males were released in Washington’s southern Cascades in Gifford Pinchot National Forest (GPNF). In late 2016 and early 2017, 46 fishers were released in nearby areas of GPNF and in Mount Rainier National Park. Since then, monitoring efforts show released animals have successfully established themselves throughout the Olympic Peninsula and the southern Cascades, and have begun to reproduce. 
 
Fishers are related to wolverines and otters and are native to the forests of Washington, including the Cascade mountain range. This elusive carnivore preys on various small mammals – mountain beavers, squirrels and snowshoe hares – and is one of the few predators of porcupines.

The state recovery and implementation plans for fisher reintroduction in the Cascades can be found at: wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisher/reintroduction_cascades.html.

Learn more about fisher restoration in Washington State at www.conservationnw.org/our-work/wildlife/fisher.

Read a story on fishers in the Bellingham Herald here.

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