Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided against granting endangered species protection to the Pacific fisher, claiming that voluntary conservation measures provide adequate protection for the small, weasel-like carnivore native to Oregon’s southern old growth forests.
Paul Henson, state supervisor of the agency’s Oregon office, told the Oregonian, “Over 2 million acres of private land have been enrolled under six conservation agreements protecting existing and promoting new fisher habitat, with three additional applications in process. The heavy lifting done by our partners greatly alleviates the need for regulation.”
Also quoted in the Oregonian is Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands—an environmental advocacy group that has been working to secure legal protection for the Pacific fisher since 2000.
According to Cady, “We’ve been operating under voluntary conservation efforts for a number of species for a long time. And these mature-forest species are still spiraling downhill.”
He believes the decision was aimed at protecting the profits of timber companies and said that Cascadia Wildlands is considering a legal appeal.
Biologists estimate that a few hundred to a couple thousand Pacific fishers can be found in the state today, mostly near the California border.
By JD Brookbank