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Contact: Barb Maynes, Olympic NP, 360-565-3005
Contact: Harriet Allen, Wash. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, 360-902-2694
Contact: Kurt Jenkins, US Geological Survey, 360-565-3041
Despite the snow and cold, biologists reintroduced 14 fishers today within the Elwha and Sol Duc valleys of Olympic National Park. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Olympic National Park (ONP) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) staff, along with several members of the public, released the animals and watched them as they bounded into the snowy forest.
Each of the 14 cat-sized animals is wearing a radio collar to allow biologists to monitor their movements and activities and learn more about the fisher’s role in the ecosystem.
Over the duration of this three-year project, a total of approximately 100 fishers will be released within the park. Eighteen fishers were released in Olympic National Park last January and March, in Washington State’s first reintroduction of the species.
Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Olympic National Park (ONP) are still monitoring 13 of the reintroduced animals. Three of the fishers released last winter have died, and radio transmitters on two others no longer function. Scientists analyzed two of the carcasses, learning that one animal was killed by a bobcat in the Elwha Valley and one was fatally injured by a vehicle while crossing Highway 101 near Forks. The third animal died in a remote area of Olympic National Park and has not been recovered.
Fishers are related to minks and otters and 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 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.
Fisher reintroduction to Olympic National Park is made possible through a partnership of agencies and organizations. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Olympic National Park are joint project managers and, along with the U.S. Geological Survey, are leading a research and monitoring program to evaluate the success of the reintroduction. The British Columbia Ministry of Environment is actively supporting the effort to capture and import fishers to Washington. Non-profit partner Conservation Northwest provides financial and administrative support for the project’s operations in British Columbia while Washington’s National Park Fund is providing financial support for monitoring the reintroduced fisher population. Other partners and organizations are providing financial or logistical support for management and research tasks.
More information, including monthly updates from the monitoring effort, is available online.