U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Announces Inexplicable Decision to Reverse Course on Protecting Rare Forest Mammal
Agency abruptly withdraws proposed rule that would have protected the Pacific fisher under the Endangered Species Act.
Washington, D.C.—Today, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that it would not list the West Coast population of the Pacific Fisher as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This action comes after more than 15 years and multiple lawsuits brought by a coalition of conservation groups to have the species listed.
The agency concluded in 2004 that fishers are extremely imperiled and warrant federal protection, and the agency published a proposed rule in October 2014 that would have listed the species as threatened. The Service has now reversed course and withdrawn its proposed listing rule.
A close relative of the mink, otter, and wolverine, the Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti) once roamed the old-growth forests of the West Coast from Washington state to the Sierra Nevada. Today, fishers are almost extinct in Washington and Oregon and only two small populations remain in California. Logging, trapping and development have fragmented the fisher’s habitat and threaten the remaining populations’ viability.
“For the biologists who have been toiling in the trenches for almost two decades to protect this species, today’s decision is infuriating,” said Earthjustice staff attorney Greg Loarie. “For the fisher, today’s decision could be a death sentence if it’s allowed to stand.”