The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and forest landowners are preparing to move forward on a joint strategy to help protect the fisher, a member of the weasel family currently under consideration for federal listing as a threatened species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is accepting public comments through March 30th on a proposed agreement with WDFW that, if approved, will extend incentives to landowners who take steps to protect fishers that move onto their lands.
Under the proposed Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), landowners who adopt specified conservation measures will not be subject to any additional land restrictions if fishers are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Options for submitting public comments on the proposed CCAA are outlined at http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/.
“This program can really be a win-win for both fishers and landowners,” said Penny Becker, WDFW wildlife diversity manager. “In many cases, landowners who simply agree not to harm or disturb fishers and report any they see on their property can be exempted from restrictions that may result from a future ESA listing.”
Doug Hooks, director of environmental programs at the Washington Forest Protection Association, said his organization has been working with WDFW, USFWS, tribes and others for more than a year to extend the program to landowners in Washington state.
“The work we are doing together is a testament that landowners, the state and federal government can develop voluntary measures that protect wildlife and the forestry business at the same time,” Hooks said.
More information on the CCAA program is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisher/ccaa.html, or by contacting Gary Bell (360-902-2412, [email protected]) or Jeff Azerrad (360-696-6211 ext. 6754, [email protected]).
Fishers are one of the larger members of the weasel family, which also includes otters, badgers and wolverines. Eliminated from Washington by the mid-1900s through over-trapping and habitat loss, fishers are now making a comeback through efforts to reestablish the species by WDFW, the National Park Service, Conservation Northwest and other partners. Fishers have been listed by the state as endangered since 1998.