Fishermen freed at Olympic National Park to boost species restoration

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By The Daily World

Federal, state, tribal and partner biologists released five fishermen from Alberta, Canada, into the coastal forest near Lake Ozette on November 5, the latest event in a nearly two-decade project to restore the species. natives in Washington.

Fishermen – a member of the weasel family roughly the size of a domestic cat that feeds on rodents, hares, and even porcupines – vanished from Washington in the 1930s due to over-trapping, poisoning and fragmentation of their forest habitat.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, the US Geological Survey, and the Conservation Northwest are working together to release fish species.

Ninety anglers were captured in northern British Columbia and reintroduced to Olympic National Park and surrounding areas of Olympic National Forest from 2008 to 2010. Anglers in British Columbia and Alberta were reintroduced in and around Mount Rainier National Park from 2015, and north Cascades National Park and surrounding areas, as of 2018.

“Watching the fishermen return to the forests of the Olympic Peninsula is truly inspiring,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “As they run through lush ferns and return to our biodiversity landscape, you can tell that they belong here and that they will enrich our natural heritage and support the overall health of this ecosystem.”

The Washington Fishermen Reintroduction Project met its goal in early 2020 of releasing more than 250 fishermen in total to the Olympic and Cascade Ranges with successful breeding. But project partners aimed to increase the number and genetic diversity of fishermen on the Olympic Peninsula by using animals trapped alive in Alberta.

About 20 fishermen are expected to be released in November and December at sites around the Olympic National Forest.

“Fishermen are vulnerable in Washington, and we are working creatively with partners to bring them back to their original ranges,” said Kelly Susewind, Director of Fisheries and Wildlife. “Fishermen’s Restoration is a great example of our agency’s mission and how partnership is key to conservation success. “

Conservation Northwest has worked with Canadian trappers to humanely acquire the fishermen for release, who are then registered, examined and temporarily housed by the Calgary Zoo before being transported to Washington.

“The reintroduction of fishermen has been a model of collaboration; a public-private partnership that has grown to include local communities, indigenous nations, forestry and others, ”said Dave Werntz, director of science and conservation for Conservation Northwest.

“It’s inspiring to see more of these charismatic creatures returning to our state and exciting to examine the possibilities that collaborative conservation offers to Washington’s natural heritage. “

Surveillance efforts show that the released animals have shown signs of establishment throughout the Olympic Peninsula and in the Cascade Mountains from Mount Adams to Mount Baker and have started to breed.

Although listed as Endangered by the state, the Washington fishing population was not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act during a recent review of its status due progress of ongoing reintroduction efforts.

Restoring viable populations of fishermen in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains are important steps in removing the species from the list in Washington. The state recovery plan and implementation plan for the reintroduction of fishermen to the Cascades can be viewed at: wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisher/reintroduction_cascades.html.

A voluntary fishermen conservation program (wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/pekania-pennanti#conservation) is available to private forest owners that provides regulatory guarantees if the species is listed. To date, over 60 landowners have entered 3.32 million acres into Fishermen’s Conservation.

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