We’re Bringing These Nasty Buggers Back to the Cascades. Cool.

Good news for those who care for endangered species, or just those who like to know there is an abundance of small, furry animals running around in our woods: we’re bringing back the Pacific fisher (hopefully).

The North Cascades National Park Complex is now seeking comments on their proposed plan to restore the Pacific fisher species to its historical range in Washington State by reintroducing the species to the North and South Cascades.

The plan is to capture, transport, and release 40 fishers a year for two years from a “source population in Central British Columbia” to each ecosystem in the Cascade Range that’s deemed a suitable habitat. From there officials would monitor the fishers’ development, movements, and survival for three years at least.

Found only in North America, fishers are the only native carnivore considered extirpated, or locally extinct, from the Cascade Range in Washington. Thanks to logging, trapping, and development in the forests years ago, by the mid-1990s the fisher’s range had shrunk to around 43 percent of its historical range in North America.

Extensive surveys at this time actually couldn’t find any fishers in Washington State, and fishers were formally listed as extinct in 1998. In the last couple decades there’s been a push to reintroduce fishers to their territories in the Northern U.S., and in 2008, 90 fishers were reintroduced to Olympic National Park. But there are still no populations close enough to repopulate Washington.

The proposed plan from the National Park Complex is to team up with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to slowly introduce fishers back to the North and South Cascades—the last two of three major ecosystems statewide where successful reintroduction is needed in order to meet Washington officials’ recovery goal for the species.

To inform, refine, and improve this project The National Park Service is seeking public comments on their website through September 30, 2013. The officials behind the project hope to move fast in order to maintain international partnerships between agencies that help make the project so successful.

“It is very exciting to partner with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Mount Rainier National Park to reintroduce the fisher to this area,” said North Cascades National Park Complex superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich in a press release. “Reintroducing any species, much less one as wild as the fisher, is a complex and dynamic process and requires the collaboration of landowners and managers across the landscape to be successful.”

 
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