Throw West Coast Fishers a Lifeline

Fishers once roamed widely from the piney forests of British Columbia to Southern California's montane chaparral. But now, after decades of intense logging and trapping, these furry weasels are barely hanging on in just five small, scattered populations on the West Coast.

Fortunately the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list West Coast fishers as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But the agency's plans don't yet go far enough to ensure recovery.

The Service is considering limiting protection to just those fishers in California and southern Oregon, while denying help for other key populations to the north.

The agency's also ignoring the very real harm of incidental trapping and poaching; scientists have shown that even just a few deaths from traps can deal a severe blow to a small, struggling population. And with the price of fur on the rise, there's good reason to wonder if some of that catch may not be accidental.

Take action today -- urge the Service to protect all fishers and their habitat on the West Coast and instate a trapping rule to end preventable deaths.
I am writing to urge you to protect not just a few but all five of the small and isolated populations of fishers on the West Coast. These shy and yet tough and clever animals face significant risk of extinction due to a number of threats, including genetic depression and inbreeding. The Fish and Wildlife Service should ensure that any listing rule for the fisher protects all West Coast fishers and suitable habitat to encourage dispersal and genetic exchange.

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The Service must also minimize the threat posed to fishers from incidental trapping and poaching, a significant threat the agency has previously recognized. Even just a few deaths from trapping can impact small, struggling populations -- and with fur prices on the rise, poaching will be an increasing risk.

Please -- do everything in your power to make sure these beautiful animals get the strong protections they need and a rule that will actually improve their recovery.


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