Online Messenger #256
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Western Watersheds Project joined a coalition of conservation groups in filing an Endangered Species Act petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking legal protection for the Northern Rockies fisher, which occurs in old growth forests in parts of Montana and Idaho. This secretive carnivore is a medium-sized cat-like member of the weasel family, with a slender brown body and long, bushy tail.
It is still legal to trap fishers in Montana, and they are accidentally caught in Montana and Idaho in traps set for other species such as martens and bobcats and, more recently, wolves. In Idaho, where there is no open season for fisher, a total of 22 fishers were captured and 15 died in traps set for wolves during 2011/2012 trapping season.
In addition to the direct threats of trapping, habitat modification and destruction is also harming the species. Logging, development, roads, climate change, fire, fire-suppression activities, forest diseases and livestock grazing all contribute to reduced habitat for the fisher and to increased accidental mortality and disease transmission.
WWP and our allies hope that new genetic information that distinguishes the fisher from the marten and an increase in trapping deaths of the species will prompt the Service to take action and provide this interesting mammal with meaningful conservation management. The Service must issue an initial finding on the new petition within one year.
Western Watersheds Project joins the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Bitterroot, Friends of the Clearwater, and Friends of the Wild Swan in submitting the petition.