Rare Fishers Get Help Making a Comeback in Washington

Conservationists are celebrating a homecoming for rare fishers who are being returned to Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, where they’ve been absent for the past 75 years.

Fishers, who are members of the weasel family, were once widespread throughout Washington, but they suffered tremendously from a loss of their old-growth forest habitat and unregulated trapping for their pelts. By the mid-1900s, they had disappeared entirely from the state.

After extensive surveys found no evidence of their presence, they were finally protected as an endangered species in the state in 1998 and efforts were launched to bring them home to their historic range in the Cascade Mountains.

In 2008, the first were released into the wild in Olympic National Park. Following success there, efforts were focused on the Cascades, where two dozen more were released last year in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

State, federal and non-profit biologists released 10 more, four females and six males, from British Columbia in the Nisqually River watershed of Mount Rainier National Park, who are the first of their kind to set foot there in more than seven decades.

“Watching the fishers return today to their native forests of Mount Rainier National Park after a long absence was inspiring,” said Randy King, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent. “It was an honor to have the Nisqually and Cowlitz Tribes, and the Canadian Chilcotin and Northern Shuswap First Nations attend bringing their blessings and songs.”

The effort in Washington is a result of partnerships between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), National Park Service (NPS), Conservation Northwest and other groups that want to see fishers return and thrive in the state, both because they are ecologically valuable and because they’re seen as cultural and spiritual symbols.

It’s hoped that they’ll expand on their own and reclaim their rightful place in the wild, while more releases are in the works. Those who were reintroduced will be monitored by the WDFW and NPS, along with support from Conservation Northwest, which will be helping through its Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project.

“Mount Rainier is an icon of the Pacific Northwest, and today our region is wilder and healthier with the return of the fisher to Mount Rainier National Park,” said Mitch Friedman, Executive Director of Conservation Northwest. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this historic reintroduction effort, and thankful to all the scientists, agencies, and supporters who made it possible.”

Photo credit: John Jacobson/WDFW

82 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W5 months ago

Fantastic article Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W5 months ago

Great news and article Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W5 months ago

Fantastic news Thank you for caring and sharing

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C5 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Pat P
Pat P5 months ago

Although I am glad for their return, the fishers will need protection from humans. Will they get it?! How long before cruel trappers move in? I fear for their safety and ALL wildlife with our new Sec'y of the Interior.

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W. C
W. C5 months ago

Thank you.

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Joanne p
Joanne p5 months ago

ty

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Leanne K
Leanne K5 months ago

That IS great! Even more so that the indigenous First Nation people were there to welcome them! Well done!

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Ann B
Ann B5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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