11 thoughts on “Fisher Re-introduction Project”

  1. Thanks for sharing Larry. I’ve had some cool Fisher encounters in the wild over the years.

    I suppose a re-introduction project for Fishers might be in order in places like Montana and Idaho, where scores of extra wolf trappers in our national forests have taken a real toll on the ‘non-target’ fisher populations. Of course, not sure how the re-intro project would work as apparently Idaho’s fisher population is an isolated and genetically distinct population.

    Below is some more information:

    Source: http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2013/02/14/state-public-records-request-shows-widespread-capture-and-mortality-of-non-target-animals-related-to-idaho-wolf-trapping-during-20112012-trapping-season

    By Ken Cole

    A response to a state public records request, submitted by Western Watersheds Project to the Idaho Fish and Game Department, shows widespread capture and mortality of non-target species related to wolf trapping and snaring in Idaho during the 2011/2012 trapping and snaring season. For the last two years, since wolves in the Northern Rockies were delisted, wolf trappers in Idaho have killed approximately 177 wolves. However, during just the 2011/2012 trapping season these trappers have captured approximately 246 non-target animals. Of those captured, 116 were released alive, 118 were killed, and the fate of 12 others were not reported….

    ….Included in the list of species captured are rare species such as eagles, fishers, and goshawk. Despite the fact that fishers in Idaho are isolated and genetically distinct from other fisher populations, and there being no open season for fisher, a total of 22 fishers were captured and 15 of those died. According to a 2009 petition to list fishers as an endangered species in the northern Rockies:

    “The trapping season for fishers has been closed in Idaho since the 1930′s. The fisher is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need, and ranked “G5/S1” (IDFG 2005a). This means that it is globally secure, but within the State of Idaho it is: “Critically imperiled. At high risk because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences), rapidly declining numbers, or other factors that make it particularly vulnerable to rangewide extinction or extirpation”

  2. Sharon: Trapping of wolves has been banned for decades.

    However, last year Idaho started allowing the trapping (and even snaring) of wolves. This year, Montana also started allowing trappers to trap wolves.

    What I was attempting to get across with the “extra” is that there are many “extra” trappers now combing the national forests and other public lands of Montana and Idaho because these are just the new wolf trappers and they aren’t necessarily trappers who have been doing the fur-bearer trapping all along. For example, Montana FWP reports that over 2,500 people took their wolf-trapping course this year, and the vast majority of those people were entirely new to trapping. I’m sure the same thing happened in Idaho. My point is that because of wolf trapping (and snaring) now being legal in these states our national forests and other public lands have hundreds, if not thousands of “extra” trappers and likely thousands of extra traps, indiscriminately killing or injuring whatever creature steps in the wrong spot. Official FWP reports from Idaho and Montana prove that many ‘non-target’ species, such as elk, deer, moose, fischer, bobcat, etc are being killed in these “extra” wolf traps.

    And for the record, 1,015 wolves have been killed by hunters/trappers in Montana and Idaho the past two years. However, that’s likely not even close to the number of wolves actually killed. Let’s not forget about those who promoted “shoot, shovel, shut up,” or even talked about poisoning wolves. How many more wolves were killed, but never reported? Or wounded by unethical hunters and trappers seeking remove wolves from the landscape? Federal and state agencies also killed hundreds of wolves during the same period.

    Certainly all food for thought next time someone cries that wolves aren’t being ‘managed’ in the Northern Rockies.

  3. More on all these “extra” wolf trappers. This is from an letter to the editor in today’s Missoulian. It describes a scene that is likely on the Lolo National Forest near Alberton, Montana.


    Wolves: Trappers should ‘leave no trace’

    Wolf trappers who left this area when the season ended Feb. 28 left behind hundreds of pounds of bait, including three whole calves (sliced open), an entire skinned beaver, the hide of an adult cow with head attached, other animal parts, wads of paper and a metal stake driven through a deer fawn. The calves, beaver and other parts are near (400 yards?) residences where children and pets live.

    The stench and bait will continue to attract predators to this area, which is easily accessible by a county-maintained road and which is frequented by hikers, antler hunters and other recreationists. It is frustrating for area residents who have taken measures (e.g., protecting garbage) to discourage the same predators the trappers are attempting to attract.

    Campers are encouraged to “leave no trace.” How about the same expectation for trappers, especially near residential areas?

    The skinned beaver was posed atop a cow leg for all to see. The trapper’s vehicle had a “Montana Trappers Association” decal on the window.

    Bill Thomas, Alberton

  4. Thanks for bringing it to our attention Matt, this is important. I’m glad Ken dug up this information too.

    Although this isn’t really within the purview of NCFP (Forest Service planning, projects and whatnot), I think it’s good to daylight the unacceptable losses of wildlife (particularly “critically imperiled”, threatened and endangered species like fisher, lynx and {soon} wolverine) to trappers. Last year alone trappers in Idaho killed 118 animals unintentionally, an absolute crime.

    I would encourage everyone to visit the “Wildlife News” link above. Please read (all) the comments and understand the atrocity that is taking place. Luckily the WildEarth Guardians filed NOI’s with the MT and ID Fish and Game Departments last year to try and stop trapping because incidental catch of lynx is technically “take” under the ESA. Not sure what the status of that lawsuit is though. Hopefully they followed through with a complaint? Can anyone update us???

    Another good source of info on illegal “take” can be found here:


    I’m sure MT has a similar site. Seems that all the “extra” visitors may be another threat to wildlife that needs to be dealt with.

    I guess as long as the fisher is an MIS species this is germane????

    • Thanks for the additional information JZ. Yes, I believe that this is entirely germane to our discussions here about Forest Service management, although I suppose others might disagree.

      Thanks for highlighting the “Wildlife News” site of Ken Cole…excellent source of info and great comments from all kinds of people.

      You can learn more about the NOI to sue RE: wolf trapping and the “taking” of lynx here:
      http://www.wildrockiesalliance.org/news/2012/0821lynxHLN.shtml. As you can see, it was Alliance for the Wild Rockies, WildEarth Guardians, Friends of the Wild Swan and Native Ecosystem Council who filed that NOI. I will check this morning whether the next step was taken. Good to see, however, those groups getting a little love on this site for their legal actions, as for the most part, those efforts are usually just maligned.

      • Matt: The “love” is because these animals are actually being killed (“take”) and the problem is immediate and can be readily addressed. Plus, these are actual species — not common varietals — and it has nothing to do with “habitat” regulations or other legalistic semantics. A real problem with real species that can (and should) be resolved. And the results can be measured. My impression is that this is the exact type of problem that was the actual intent of ESA in the first place, not the unending courtroom charades of the past few decades since its inception. Trappers, not lawyers or “the American public.” Real people and real problems that are worth addressing.

  5. Thanks Matt for the update. I wouldn’t call it love though…more like disdain. But I believe in fair and balanced info sharing, which is why I asked readers to check out ALL the comments linked above. It should be obvious what the end game is for Ken’s inquiry and wolverine listing, lynx, etc. (Sarcasm font was ON in most of my comment).

    I wouldn’t consider myself an “extra”, more like an “original”. Happy to see that once the novelty wore off most folks stopped, as predicted. Your suppositions are a little suspect(wrong), but any time you need a 1-on-1 for educational purposes your welcome to ride along…not going to argue about it here though.

    • Here’s an update JZ:


      For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 21, 2013

      Imperiled Canada Lynx Caught in Traps Push the Species Closer to Extinction
      Montana’s regulations allow traps in occupied lynx habitat in violation of the Endangered Species Act

      Wendy Keefover | WildEarth Guardians | 303.819.5229
      Mike Garrity | Alliance for the Wild Rockies | 406.459.5936
      Arlene Montgomery | Friends of the Wild Swan | 406.886.2011

      Helena, MT. Three conservation organizations today sued the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission and the agency’s director for permitting trapping that kills and injures Canada lynx, a species protected as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The state permits trapping and snaring in lynx habitat, even though the Act prohibits harm to protected species. At least nine Montana lynx have been captured in traps set for other species in Montana since the species was listed in March 2000, and four are known to have died from trapping.

      “In one instance, a young female lynx was found in a pool of her own blood, with extensive muscle damage, and an empty stomach – all from lingering far too long in a cruel, steel-jawed trap,” stated Wendy Keefover, Carnivore Protection Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, “Montana allowed this unnecessary death, which impedes lynx recovery, especially when it involves potential breeding animals.”

      Population estimates for lynx in Montana are unknown. The best available science estimates that no more than 300 lynx inhabit Montana and that the population is declining from both indirect and direct threats such cutting the forests in their habitats, human encroachment, global warming, and mortalities from poaching and trapping.

      Lynx are particularly vulnerable to traps and snares set for other species, such as bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and wolverines, and are potentially vulnerable to wolf traps. Lynx are easily captured as they are naïve about human scents, respond well to baits, and are easily attracted to visual lures.

      Though lynx trapping is banned since the animal is protected under the ESA, Montana allows regulated trapping of a number of other species throughout the year. The conservation groups allege that trapping and snaring in occupied lynx habitat is illegal because the Endangered Species Act mandates that states prevent the “take” of “threatened” lynx.

      Even Canada lynx that survive being captured in body-gripping traps endure physiological and psychological trauma, dehydration, and exposure as well as injuries to bone and tissue that reduces their fitness and chances for persistence. Trapping is also a source of indirect mortality to lynx kits since adults harmed or killed by traps and snares cannot adequately feed and nurture their young.

      “Crippled or dead lynx can’t take care of their young,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “If we want to get lynx off the Endangered Species list, we need species’ recovery, not more mortalities and mutilations.”

      “Baited traps lure lynx to injury and death,” said Arlene Montgomery, Program Director for Friends of the Wild Swan. “Montana has a responsibility to ensure that imperiled species are not harmed by trapping. Our goal is to make sure that the State does just that.”

      The groups are represented by attorneys Matt Bishop and Greg Costello of Western Environmental Law Center, and Melissa Hailey of W. Randolph Barnhart, P.C.

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