Welcome back, fishers!
On a wintry morning, January 27, 2008 after a long absence from their native home, twelve fisher from British Columbia bounded out of their transport boxes into remote sites with Olympic National Park. This historic event marked the first step toward restoring the small, reclusive mammals to the forests of Olympic National Park and Washington State. Over the next three years an additional 78 animals were introduced to the park.
Fishers are members of the weasel family, about the size of a large house cat. They are native to Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, but their dark, thick fur made them attractive to trappers and by the early 20th century, decades of over-trapping led to a severe population decline and eventual disappearance from the state. As mesopredators, carnivores who are eaten by other predators, fishers prey on species like snowshoe hares and mountain beavers while providing a food source for other carnivores.
A dedicated alliance between federal and state agencies, tribes, and nonprofit organizations has led the way to this fisher restoration project. Through years of study, biologists determined that Olympic National Park would serve as an optimal restoration site. Since their reintroduction in 2008-2010, fishers have dispersed widely throughout the Peninsula, and successfully established home ranges in both managed and wilderness forests. Scientists have used a variety of methods, including aerial and on-the-ground telemetry, wildlife cameras, and hair snare stations to keep tabs on the fishers. Goals of monitoring the Peninsula's fisher population are to determine which habitats and areas of the Olympic Peninsula the fishers are occupying, and to see if fisher population is sustainable - namely, if the fishers are successfully reproducing. Scientists continue to monitor the Peninsula's fisher population.
Keep reading to learn about these founding fishers' unique stories, and follow their journeys across the peninsula!
Click the links below to learn what scientists have learned about the Olympic Peninsula's fisher population and check back here frequently as we add more information and photos.
Fishers don't fish! Instead, they eat rabbits, rodents, and birds - and are one of the few animals that prey upon porcupines. The first European settlers called them fishers because they resembled the European polecat, known as the fichet in French.
More Information about Fishers and Fisher Reintroduction
Evaluation of Fisher (Pekania pennanti) Restoration in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Recovery Area. 2014 Annual Progress Report Happe, P.J., K.J. Jenkins, T.J. Kay, K. Pilgrim, M.K. Schwartz, J.C. Lewis, and K.B. Aubry. 2015. Natural Resources Data Series NPS/OLYM/NRDS - 2015/804. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado
Evaluation of Fisher Restoration in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Recovery Area: 2013 Annual Progress Report. Happe, P.J., K.J. Jenkins, M.K. Schwartz, F.C. Lewis, K.B. Aubry. 2014. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.