On April 14, 2016, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service concluded that west coast populations of fisher are not facing extinction and recognized that collaborative voluntary conservation efforts by state agencies and private landowners are providing conservation benefits for fisher on millions of acres across the range of the fisher in three states. The Service found that the threats to fisher were significantly less than feared, and did not warrant a listing under the Endangered Species Act.
“We applaud the Service’s decision not to list the fisher because it is good for the fisher,” said Kristina McNitt, President of Oregon Forest & Industries Council. “Forest landowners in Oregon are committed to protecting fish and wildlife and preserving habitat for species like the fisher. This progressive development underscores the dedication of the Oregon forest industry and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to work collaboratively to achieve common environmental goals. We look forward to implementing the industry’s pledged conservation goals to protect and expand fisher habitat and hope this collaborative effort acts as a model for the future.”
The Service recognized that there were a number of federal, state, tribal and private partners that came together in California, Oregon and Washington to conserve fisher habitat and restore the population.
“The work we did together is a testament that landowners, the state, tribal and federal governments can develop voluntary measures that protect wildlife species, and the forestry business at the same time,” said Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association.
“I applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing that the voluntary efforts between California, Oregon and Washington to preserve and enhance the habitat of the pacific fisher are beyond what is needed to maintain a robust population,” said David Bischel, President of the California Forestry Association. “Our collaborative efforts show our commitment to the long-term stability of the species. We’ve found that these types of successful partnerships are best enhanced through both public and private landowner participation, and we look forward to continuing our efforts across jurisdictional boundaries in the West.”
The fisher is among the larger members of the weasel family that also includes the marten, otter, and mink. It is found in much of the northern United States, including populations in Washington, Oregon, and California. The fisher’s historic range was significantly curtailed toward the turn of the last century due, primarily, to trapping and pest control. Today, healthy populations persist in the southern Sierra Nevadas, in northern California and southwest Oregon, and on the Olympic peninsula in Washington.
Recognizing that abundant fisher habitat exists on private and public lands throughout the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges, landowners have worked with the Service to protect existing populations, and to reintroduce fisher in suitable habitat outside of its current range. In Washington, reintroduction efforts have been underway since 2008, and a programmatic candidate conservation agreement with assurances (“CCAA”) that would protect fisher found on state and private lands for 20 years is nearing completion. More than 25 landowners and 1.4 million acres have enrolled in the CCAA. In Oregon, landowners have indicated their intention to enroll more than three million acres of forestland under a template CCAA that requires fisher protection measures for 30 years. Oregon landowners have also offered significant financial support for proposed fisher monitoring and reintroduction efforts. Similarly, California landowners have successfully reintroduced fisher on private lands, enrolled more than 1 million acres in CCAAs and related projects benefiting the fisher, including efforts to enroll additional lands.