Fisher Baby Spotted at Mount Rainier a Good Sign for Recovery
A small but fierce species is making a comeback in the Cascades. For the first time in 80 years, fishers are reproducing in the region.
A small but fierce species is making a comeback in the Cascades. For the first time in 80 years, fishers are reproducing in the region. Fishers—secretive animals that are highly effective predators of porcupines—have been the focus of a recovery project, which has now paid off with a new kit born in the wild.
A young female fisher, called Lily, was photographed this summer by a trail camera while carrying her baby, called a kit, down a tree in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The kit symbolizes the return of a population once lost to our state.
Due to habitat loss and trapping, fisher populations dwindled until the 1990s, when there was no longer any evidence of their existence in Washington. This prompted a fisher recovery project, which started in 2008 and has been a collaboration between many organizations, including the National Park Service, Conservation Northwest, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, First Nations in British Columbia and the British Columbia government.
“It’s a big team. It’s an army. And it wouldn’t be able to happen without all the help that we get from all these different organizations and agencies,” said Jeff Lewis, mesocarnivore conservation biologist for WDFW.
So far, fishers have been reintroduced into the Olympic Peninsula, South Cascades and, soon, the North Cascades. Lily was released into the South Cascades on February 6, 2016. She gave birth to her kit just over one year later.
“When you’re out there hiking on a trail, keep an eye out, look at the habitat around you, think about what it might mean for wildlife and really enjoy that this place has so many dimensions—from the ones you can see to the ones that you may not see, like that fisher scampering through the ferns,” said Chase Gunnell, the communications director at Conservation Northwest. “When you see them disappear into that mossy, lush Cascade forest, it just looks like they belong there and they feel right at home. And that’s a cool thing to behold.”
How to report a fisher sighting
If you think you’ve spotted a fisher, dead or alive, call 360-902-2515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to get a photo if you can. Before you make a report, try to confirm it’s not a pine marten, which are smaller than fishers and have a lighter coat and a large yellow, tan or orange patch of fur on their chest.