FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pacific fisher returns to washington
Conservation Northwest welcomes the return of a native forest mammal to our state
After five years of planning, eleven Pacific fishers were released today into old forests in the Olympic National Park, including a location near the Elwha River.
If the last century was about eliminating wildlife from their habitat, then this century is all about bringing them back. Photo © Paul Bannick
With fresh snow on the ground and blue skies above, the Pacific fisher returned home to its habitat in Washington State for the first time in over eighty years. The fisher, a relative of the weasel family that thrives in old-growth forests, was eliminated in Washington State due to over-trapping and the loss of big trees and snags found in old-growth forests. Biological studies determined that active reintroduction efforts were needed to reestablish fisher populations in Washington, identifying the Olympic National Park as the best initial location.
In 2002, Conservation Northwest partnered with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to initiate the reestablishment of a native population of fishers to the forests of western Washington.
After five years of planning, eleven Pacific fishers were released today into old forests in the Olympic National Park, including a location near the Elwha River. A crowd of forty onlookers, which included students from Stevens Elementary School in Port Angeles, were on hand to witness the historic event. The partnership ultimately involved five agencies (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey) and two non-profit organizations: Conservation Northwest and Washington’s National Park Fund.
Conservation Northwest’s executive director Mitch Friedman heralded the achievement:
“If the last century was about eliminating wildlife from their habitat, then this century is all about bringing them back. Today’s return of the fisher to the Olympic National Park is proof that when we work together, we can repair past mistakes and bring back the Northwest’s natural wonders.”
“With fishers back home in the Olympic Peninsula, the magnificent old-growth ecosystem found here is now more complete. We are honored to have been involved in this effort and commend the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Olympic National Park for their leadership.”
Timeline for Pacific fisher reintroduction
1998 - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife completes status review on fisher and reports that there are no known populations of fisher in the state and without recovery actions, including reintroductions, fisher is likely to be extirpated from state.
1998 - Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission lists fisher as State endangered species.
May 2002 - Partnership formalized between Conservation Northwest and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to investigate feasibility of fisher reintroduction to the state. Funding for the study was provided by Conservation Northwest, US Fish and Wildlife Service (State Wildlife grants), and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
September 2002 - Monterra Environmental, Inc. consulting firm completes a "Fisher Habitat Feasibility Assessment for Washington State - Tier 1 Draft Report" showing that the largest amount of fisher habitat in Washington exists on the Olympic peninsula.
September 2004 - WDFW publishes its "Feasibility Assessment for Reintroducing Fishers to Washington"
October 2006 - WDFW publishes its "Implementation Plan for Reintroducing Fishers to Olympic National Park"
September 2007 - Olympic National Park and WDFW release their "Fisher Reintroduction Plan" and Environmental Analysis for public review and comment.
November 2007 - Olympic National Park issues its decision to proceed with fisher reintroduction.
January 2008 – Eleven fishers released into Olympic National Park.
Future: Continued fisher releases, ongoing monitoring efforts to study the fisher in its habitat.
For more information on the Pacific fisher visit: http://www.conservationnw.org/wildlife-habitat/pacific-fisher
NOTE: Please credit photo to Paul Bannick. Permission for use granted with news article, for all other uses please contact Paul Bannick: www.paulbannick.com, 206-352-1940.