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Sat, Feb

Pacific Fisher needs protection

Typography

In response to a petition and lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife today recommended state Endangered Species Act protection for the fisher in the southern Sierra Nevada portion of its range. 

Though this cat-like member of the weasel family was once wide-ranging, today only two naturally occurring fisher populations survive — one in the southern Sierra and another in Northern California. The department did not recommend protecting the fisher’s northern population. The state Fish and Game Commission will vote in August on whether to finalize protection for one or both populations.

In response to a petition and lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife today recommended state Endangered Species Act protection for the fisher in the southern Sierra Nevada portion of its range. 

Though this cat-like member of the weasel family was once wide-ranging, today only two naturally occurring fisher populations survive — one in the southern Sierra and another in Northern California. The department did not recommend protecting the fisher’s northern population. The state Fish and Game Commission will vote in August on whether to finalize protection for one or both populations.

“It’s great news that fishers in the Sierras are moving toward protection, but allCalifornia’s fishers deserve full protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act,” said Justin Augustine, a Center attorney. “These special carnivores need to be shielded from widespread logging and the toxic chemicals used by some marijuana growers.”

The Center petitioned for state protection for the fisher in 2008. In 2010 the Fish and Game Commission voted against protection, but the Center successfully challenged that decision in court, leading to today’s recommendation. 

The commission initially tried to reject the 2008 petition without conducting a full scientific review. Only after the Center exposed correspondence showing that many of the department’s own scientists believed fishers may be at risk of extinction did the commission reverse course and direct the department to conduct a full review. The department’s 2010 review of the fishers’ status in California was heavily criticized by independent biologists. 

“Fishers once thrived in California’s forests, but the two small remaining populations are now at substantial risk of extinction without the full legal protection they clearly deserve,” said Augustine. “We’ll urge the Fish and Game commission to safeguard all fishers in California.”

Pacific Fisher image credit Center for Biological Diversity.

Read more at Center for Biological Diversity.