After a long absence, reintroduction of the fisher to its native habitat in Olympic National Park signifies an important step in wildlife restoration. These members of the weasel family are related to minks, weasels, badgers, and otters. A thick, glossy coat of dark brown fur allows fishers to survive harsh winters. Their long, thin body, and short legs, like that of the weasel, makes them agile hunters, climbing trees and scurrying into burrows in pursuit of prey.
Fishers are native to the forests of Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula. They vanished from the state decades ago because of over-trapping in the late 1800s and early 1900s and habitat loss and fragmentation. Fishers have been recently reintroduced to the park in a three year project to reestablish the population. Over 30 fishers have now been released at various locations within the park.
Fishers were listed as a state endangered species in 1998 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and were designated as a candidate for federal listing in 2004 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.
Despite their misleading name, fishers rarely prey upon fish. These carnivorous creatures feed mainly on snowshoe hares, as well as shrews, mice, squirrels, and birds.