Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nature Note:Fishers Reintroduced to Mt.Rainier - rare North American weasel species

Sometimes called the "fisher cat" because it is about the size of a large house cat,a close look at the fisher (Martes pennanti) shows much larger and longer claws than a house cat's,rounded ears and a pointed snout,with a facial resemblance to its cousin the wolverine.Now 10 of the rare forest weasels have been reintroduced to Mt.Rainier National Park.The creatures were set free on the Nisqually River Watershed on 2 December 2016.Over-trapping and habitat loss had extirpated them from Washington state in the mid-twentieth century,and they were listed as state-endangered in 1998.The US Fish&Wildlife Service has requested they be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.*
The four female and six male fishers released were captured in British Columbia as part of a multi-year project to reintroduce fishers to the Southern Cascade Mountains.They got health checkups by veterinarians and radio transmitters so biologists can track them,the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said.Lead partners in the effort were the WDFW;National Park Service;US Forest Service;and Conservation Northwest.The British Columbia Ministry of Environment and BC Trappers Association provided the animals.
Last year,the group released 23 fishers,11 females and 12 males,on Gifford Pinchot National Forest.Next,the Northern Cascades are targeted for more releases,with another 80 set for release beginning as early as autumn 2017.The Nisqually and Cowlitz tribes,along with Canadian Chilcotin and and Northern Shushrip First Nations,attended the Mt.Rainier release and performed their blessings and songs.*
From 2008-10,90 fishers were released in Olympic National Park,Washington.They have dispersed throughout the Olympic Peninsula and successfully reproduced.A secretive carnivore that favours low to mid-elevation boreal and mixed forests,the fisher preys on mountain beavers;squirrels;snowshoe hares;and even porcupines.The goal is to eventually be able to downlist the species,a valuable furbearer,to a less protected status.

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