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Good morning, fisher

Posted by alawson at Mar 03, 2010 11:55 PM |
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There are few things in life that will get me out of bed at five in the morning, especially on weekends. I love mornings, but I love lazy mornings even more, habitually slapping the snooze button and curling back up into the warmth of my bed no matter what day it happens to be. But a couple of Saturdays ago, things were a little different.

Good morning, fisher

A fisher released previously peers out from a tree cavity in the Olympic Peninsula. The fisher reintroduction has been highly successful these past three years. Photo: Jeff Lewis

There are few things in life that will get me out of bed at five in the morning, especially on weekends. I love mornings, but I love lazy mornings even more, habitually slapping the snooze button and curling back up into the warmth of my bed no matter what day it happens to be.  But a couple of Saturdays ago, things were a little different. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was going to release the last group of Pacific fishers in their three-year Olympic National Park reintroduction program, and I was invited!  The only catch? A five o'clock rise n shine to get myself to the trailhead where they would be letting loose these long-absent wild natives.  Yowza! 

Three alarms planted around my bedroom went off to ensure my friend and travelling companion Allison and I could rise earlier than early.  We stumbled to turn them all off, snarfed down breakfast sandwiches, and threw on hats that kept us warm and conveniently concealed our bed-head hairdos.  More than four hours on the road later, we pulled up to the remote trailhead where a small crowd was already gathered, listening to some brief remarks about the fisher reintroduction program and its partners, including Conservation Northwest.  Following the opening presentation, our attention shifted to the pickup truck loaded with five transport crates, as the first was carried carefully to the forest's edge. 

I have seen pictures and video footage from previous fisher releases and have been surprised at just how darn fast they are!  Even when watching videos like the one below, if you blink at the wrong moment, you are left staring at nothing but shivering underbrush marking the path where the fisher dashed.

Allison and I attempted to find the best location from which to spot the fishers as they blasted out of their crates, imagining those active carnivores to be growing restless in their confinement. I strained to resist blinking as the front hatch of each crate was cautiously swung open…but no fishers emerged! 

We waited in anticipation for minutes, but each of the five fishers seemed just as reluctant to leave their cozy straw-lined crates as I am when faced with leaving my bed.  WDFW biologists had to resort to gentle tickling using a twig from the back end of the crates or gingerly lifting the crates to a slight incline to encourage the fishers to exit.  Once each fisher had successfully been released, it was more like the scenes that I was familiar with, each mammal rushing off at unbelievable speeds to find somewhere to call home in their ancestors' habitat as everyone in the crowd gasped.  As Allison and I had predicted, the event turned out to be well worth sacrificing just another Saturday morning of snoozing!

This video was taken at the second to last fisher release, earlier this year. Remember, don't blink!
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