The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found it unnecessary to list Washington state's fisher population for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Reasons include the state's efforts to reintroduce the small mammals into Washington forests and enlist landowners as partners in fisher recovery. See news release.
WDFW is now enrolling forest landowners in a voluntary program that will exempt qualified landowners from land use restrictions that may result if Washington's fishers are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
To qualify, landowners must agree to adopt measures to protect fishers that move onto their land, as specified under WDFW's proposed federal Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA).
The department is enrolling qualified landowners with the understanding that the assurances will become effective if and when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves the CCAA.
For more information on the CCAA program, click here.
fisher is a large, stocky, dark brown member of the weasel family,
and is related to the mink, otter and marten. About the size of
a house cat, the fisher has a long bushy tail, short rounded ears,
short legs, and a low-to-the-ground appearance. Historically, fishers
occurred throughout much of the mid to low elevation forested areas
of Washington, but they were extirpated from the state by the mid
The two main
causes of the fisher’s decline were over-trapping and loss
and fragmentation of forested habitats. There were no trapping regulations
to protect fisher populations in Washington during the mid-1800s
until 1934, and fishers were over-trapped because of the high market
value of their pelts and their susceptibility to trapping. They
were also vulnerable to incidental capture in traps set for other
furbearers, poaching, and mortality from predator and pest control
campaigns. The combination of these mortality factors and the loss
and fragmentation of habitat led to the extinction of the fisher
in Washington. Despite protection from legal harvest since 1934,
the fisher has not recovered.
surveys to detect wide-ranging carnivores in the 1990s and early
2000s documented a number of target species but failed to detect
fishers in Washington. Because of the lack of fisher detections
and concern about fisher population declines the Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) conducted a status review for the fisher
in 1997. The Washington
State Status Report for the Fisher concluded that the fisher
was apparently extirpated in Washington and recommended that it
be listed as endangered in the state. Based on the status review,
the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission listed the fisher as
an endangered species in Washington in 1998. Fisher conservation
efforts began in Washington following the listing. A recovery
plan was written for the fisher in Washington, which outlined
recovery objectives and strategies to restore the species to the
state. Both the status review and the recovery plan identified the
need for reintroductions to restore the species in the state because
there were no existing fisher populations close enough to repopulate
Washington. The first reintroduction in the state was done in Olympic
National Park in 2008 and it was the first step toward fisher
recovery in Washington.