WASHINGTON (CN) – Rocky Mountain fishers do not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Habitat loss due to deforestation, and trapping for pelts are the greatest threats to the long term survival of the fisher, a type of weasel, according to the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition to protect the Rocky Mountain population.
Once found from coast-to-coast across Canadian and northern U.S. forests, fishers were nearly hunted to extinction for their beautiful, thick pelts.
Many states imposed trapping restrictions in the 1930s and 1940s when the species was reintroduced in many forested areas to help control porcupine populations which can destroy the roots of trees through burrowing.
In 2004, the agency recognized West Coast and Rocky Mountain distinct population segments of the fisher and determined that the West Coast population warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act but that listing was precluded by higher priority listing actions.
In its review of the Rocky Mountain fisher, the agency repeatedly concluded that insufficient information regarding the impact of deforestation and urban development on fisher populations made it impossible to conclude that the species was threatened with extinction across its range.
While the agency recognized that unregulated trapping had decimated fisher populations in the past, it found that given the reported numbers of fishers trapped, there was no evidence that the current level of trapping had a negative impact on the overall population of the species.