No Endangered Species Listing for Pacific Fisher, Reconsideration for Wolverine
PORTLAND, Ore. - Earth Day is this week, and two members of the weasel family with dwindling populations might not get endangered species protections from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Last week, the agency denied the Pacific Fisher a spot on the endangered species list.
The animal is estimated to number anywhere from a few thousand to 250, mostly in southern Oregon.
Steve Pedery, director of the conservation group Oregon Wild, says logging has been detrimental to Fisher habitat.
"They depend on old growth forests so they haven't done very well," says Pedery. "They have new threats coming at them from things like illegal marijuana grows using poisons on public lands to kill rodents that these Fisher end up eating and then dying."
The Center for Biological Diversity was the original advocate for protection of the Fisher and says the agency's decision is motivated by politics.
The Center is considering legal action against Fish and Wildlife in order to have them reconsider the Fisher's status.
Legal action for the Fisher's cousin, the wolverine, may lead Fish and Wildlife to reconsider endangered listing for the larger member of the weasel family.
Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled the agency's decision not to list wolverines had also been politically-motivated and not based scientific evidence.
Attorney Tim Preso with the conservation advocacy law firm Earthjustice says the government agency was not diligent with its decision, and the public caught them on it.
"Private citizens stood up and took on the agency and questioned the agency's scientific conclusions, and basically called out the fact that the emperor has no clothes in terms of the scientific justifications that the service offered," says Preso.
Fish and Wildlife acknowledged in a statement that wolverines need deep snow in order to den. However, it concluded climate change "was not causing the wolverine to be threatened or endangered now nor in the foreseeable future."
About 300 remain in the lower 48, and only three are known to live in Oregon today.