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Lawsuit Aims to Protect West Coast Fischer 

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The following is a press release from the Environmental Protection Information Center:


The West Coast Fischer [Photograph from US Fish and Wildlife Service]

The Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for  Biological Diversity and Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center sued the U.S. Fish and  Wildlife Service today for denying endangered species protection to West Coast fishers.  Fishers are relatives of mink, otters and wolverines and live in old-growth forests.  

The Service had previously determined that fishers warranted protection across the  West Coast, but in 2020 reversed course and only protected them in the southern Sierra  Nevada.  

Fur trapping took a toll on fisher populations but was largely banned by the 1950s. Extensive logging of the majority of forests along the West Coast has kept the animals from recovering. Now climate change and rodenticides used by marijuana growers leave them even more imperiled. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the survival of the mysterious fisher and the old-growth forests it calls home,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center.  “These tenacious animals can eat porcupines, but they can’t survive the damage we’re  doing to their forests. Fishers needed Endangered Species Act protection 20 years ago, and they need it even more today.” 

The Center and its allies first petitioned the Service to grant West Coast fishers endangered species protection in 2000, leading to a 2004 determination by the agency that the fisher should be listed as threatened throughout its West Coast range. Rather than provide this protection the Service delayed, arguing there was a lack of resources.  The agency reaffirmed the fisher’s imperilment in annual reviews through 2016, when it abruptly reversed course and denied protection. After the groups successfully challenged that decision, it granted protections to fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada but nowhere else.  

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has a legal obligation to list species at threat of extinction  but politics too often intervenes,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the 

Environmental Protection Information Center. “For twenty years, the Service has employed every trick to avoid listing the fisher. Today we are in court because enough  is enough.” 

Fishers once roamed forests from British Columbia to Southern California but now are limited to two native populations in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, plus another in Northern California and southwestern Oregon. There are also small, reintroduced populations in the central Sierra Nevada, in the southern Oregon Cascades, and in the  Olympic Peninsula, Mt. Rainier and the North Cascades in Washington state. The  Northern California-southwestern Oregon population is the largest remaining one, but is severely threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation caused by logging and high severity fire. 

“Fishers have it rough,” said George Sexton, KS Wild’s conservation director. “From  rodenticide poisoning, to habitat loss from logging and fires, these tenacious critters  face significant threats to their continued existence.”  

Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and the Center for Biological Diversity joined EPIC on the lawsuit.  

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2 COMMENTS

  1. “These tenacious animals can eat porcupines.

    The first time I saw a Fisher was 30 plus years ago. At first I was not sure what it was.
    There used to be porcupines in that same area.
    The porcupines rapidly disappeared.
    I found out Fishers were reintroduced populations in the central Sierra Nevada. urged on by logging companies. They are a rather cool animal to see.
    Used to see porcupines all the time 30 years ago as dead roadkill.
    Now you just don’t see porcupines anywhere like you used to.
    So who/what is the endangered species? If you see a porcupine note info below.

    Porcupine
    The porcupine is one of the largest rodents in North America – only the beaver is larger. Observations of porcupines in recent years have become relatively uncommon and DFW is soliciting sightings from the public. In California, porcupines are most common in montane conifer and wet meadow habitats, and can be found in the Coast Ranges, Klamath Mountains, southern Cascades, Modoc Plateau, Sierra Nevada, and Transverse Ranges.

    Equipped with a coat of long quills, porcupines are very distinctive in appearance. Adult porcupines normally weigh between 9-13 pounds, although some have been reported to weigh nearly 37 pounds!

    Porcupines are herbivores. During spring and summer, they consume a varied diet of grasses, forbs, shrubs, wetland plants, and some agricultural crops. In winter, their diet consists largely of twigs, bark, and the cambium of hardwood and conifers trees. Porcupines can girdle trees, and observations of shiny, white stems and limbs during the winter are a good indicator that porcupines are in the area.

    If you see a porcupine during your travels throughout the Golden State, DFW would like to hear from you.

    • Last year there was a dead porcupine on the side of the Hopland grade/hwy 175 near the Mendocino/Lake county line. We used to see them a lot in the Mayacama Mountains. Not anymore though.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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