Progress Report for December 2015 to March 2017
Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are a mid-sized member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) that historically occurred in the dense coniferous forests of Washington. Unregulated harvest, loss and fragmentation of habitat, and predator control campaigns beginning in the late 1800s collectively resulted in the decline and extirpation of fishers from Washington by the mid-1900s. In 1998, the fisher was listed as an endangered species in the state and recovery actions were outlined in a recovery plan for fishers in Washington. Given the success of reintroductions for restoring fisher populations, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the National Park Service (NPS), and Conservation Northwest (CNW) teamed-up to plan, implement, and monitor the success of fisher reintroductions on the Olympic Peninsula and the Cascade Range in an effort to restore fishers in the largest portions of their historical range in Washington.
In this reintroduction effort, our goal is to re-establish a self-sustaining fisher population in both the southern and northern portions of the Cascade Recovery Area by meeting these four objectives:
Objective 1: Capture a founder population of 80 fishers (~40 F and ~40 M) from central British Columbia and release them in the southern portion of the Cascade Recovery Area (Figure1) over 2-3 years, followed by another 80 fishers in the northern portion over 2-3 years.
Objective 2: Release fishers at few (2-3) locations at each of the two portions of the Recovery Area to increase the likelihood of fishers interacting, i.e., finding mates, and learning habitat suitability from previously released fishers.
Objective 3: Release as many fishers as possible before January 1, so that the stress of the reintroduction process occurs well before the active gestation period of female fishers (from late-February to late-April), which is expected to improve reproductive success.
Objective 4: Monitor post-release movements, survival, home range establishment, and reproduction to evaluate initial success of the reintroduction project during the 3-4 years when we track fishers with functioning radio-transmitters.