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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Environmental analysis for the Fisher Reintroduction Plan has been completed and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was released today.
“With completion of the environmental analysis, we are eager to move forward with restoring a missing piece of the Olympic forest,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner. “If all goes well, we hope to release fishers into the park this fall or winter.”
The Fisher Reintroduction Plan Environmental Assessment (EA), developed in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) with collaboration by the Olympic National Forest was released for a 30-day public comment period this September. Nearly 200 public comments were received by the park and considered in development of the FONSI.
The EA analyzed three alternatives, including a no action alternative. The selected alternative, Alternative B in the EA, calls for fishers to be captured from a source population in western Canada and reintroduced into Olympic National Park in three areas, the Elwha-Sol Duc, the Hoh-Bogachiel, and the Queets-Quinault areas. A founder population of at least 100 fishers will be released over a three-year period.
Park and WDFW biologists anticipate the possibility of releasing fishers into the park later this fall or early winter, and have begun discussions with wildlife biologists from western Canada to locate a source population. Further information will be released once these plans are finalized.
Fishers are small, reclusive hunters and are related to mink, otter and marten. Fishers are native to the forests of Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, but vanished from the state because of overtrapping in the late 1800s and early 1900s and habitat loss and fragmentation.
“Reintroducing fishers to the forests of Olympic National Park will bring back a native species and restore a natural balance between predators and prey,” said Laitner.
The FONSI and EA are both posted at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website. Anyone wishing to receive a copy of the FONSI may call the park at 360-565-3004.
A program to monitor the success of the reintroduced fisher population has been selected as eligible for matching funds through the National Park Service Centennial Initiative. Although the Centennial Initiative still awaits congressional approval, two partner groups, Conservation Northwest and the Washington’s National Park Fund have both pledged monetary support for this project.
More information about the Centennial Initiative is available online by selecting “Centennial Initiative 2016” at the Olympic National Park website.