On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied Endangered Species Act protection for the Pacific fisher in the whole country. Only in California’s southern Sierra, the animal is protected.
Relatives of ferrets, minks, badgers, martens and other members of the weasel family, Pacific fishers once roamed the lands of the West Coast from British Columbia to Southern California by the tens of thousands.
But their numbers have declined dramatically. First, they were killed for their fur, and later their habitat was destroyed by the wood industry.
The animal’s precise numbers are unknown, but only two naturally occurring populations remain – about 100 to 500 in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, and roughly 3,000 in northern California and southern Oregon.
“We’re glad (the fisher) finally got protection in the southern Sierra, but the decision not to protect it in the rest of its range runs totally counter to science,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that petitioned the government to safeguard the animals.
He called the decision “an unwarranted gift to the wood industry.” If an animal is protected, the area in which he lives can’t just be destroyed; a special permit is necessary.