FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 07, 2015
Olympic Valley, CA — A crew of dedicated scientists in northern California is working hard to restore declining populations of fishers. Staff from Sierra Pacific Industries, and partners from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and researchers from North Carolina State University are tracking these medium-sized members of the weasel family with radio collars.
One of the key goals of the partnership is the reintroduction of fishers to areas where the species had previously been lost. Forty fishers were released over a three-year period and researchers have been following their progress. Some fishers born on the project area have matured to the point where they are now reproducing.
By making lands available and assisting in the fisher’s reintroduction, Sierra Pacific Industries is helping fisher populations expand into new areas, helping to ensure the viability and resilience of this rare species well into the future. So far, the effort is showing promise, with a high survival rate of fishers in their new habitat.
The study also confirmed the importance of having small mammals available in the forest as food sources. Squirrels and small birds are apparently abundant on Sierra Pacific’s lands, since the vast majority of fishers have gained weight between the time of initial capture and the retrapping effort.
“It’s gratifying to receive recognition that our forests certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) can provide both forest products and wildlife habitat for these magnificent animals. We are partnering with some very dedicated wildlife biologists who all want to ensure this project continues to be a success,” said Mark Pawlicki, Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Sierra Pacific Industries.
The fisher lives in forests ranging across much of Canada’s boreal forest and the northern United States. “This is a great example of how research in one area could be leveraged by other SFI Program Participants. By requiring SFI Program Participants to engage in research and combining this with the massive, continental scale at which we operate means there could be benefits for fisher habitats in other parts of North America,” said Kathy Abusow, SFI Inc. President and CEO.
Some of the findings from working with fisher populations point to managing forest stands to increase diversity. Research suggests that prime habitat includes small aggregations of dense canopy, about half an acre (0.2 hectares) in size, with at least one tree that is larger than average to give fishers “platforms” to rest in or a cavity to den in.
Streamside management zones have proved to be ideal for these types of fisher resting platforms. Studies have identified about one third of the area within 500 feet (150 meters) of water as suitable for fishers. SFI’s Forest Management Standards require the retention of streamside management zones to aid in water quality and wildlife habitat protection.
“It’s wonderful to have our scientists and staff recognized on a national level for their dedication and hard work protecting a precious state resource,” said Neil Manji, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Regional Manager. “We thank SFI for the award and look forward to working with all our partners in the coming years.”
For their efforts on behalf of the fisher, Sierra Pacific and its partners received the Leadership in Conservation Award at the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) 2015 Annual Conference.