The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and partners from government, education and private industry are being recognized for outstanding efforts in wildlife conservation. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) presented the SFI Conservation Leadership Award for conservation work to CDFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina State University and Sierra Pacific Industries at its annual conference in Squaw Valley on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
The award is for the partnership’s work related to the fisher, a large member of the weasel family that ranges from California to British Columbia, including the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Researchers are working to better understand fisher habitat and to restore the animals to some areas where they were historically found.
“It’s wonderful to have CDFW scientists and staff recognized on a national level for their dedication and hard work protecting a precious state resource,” said Neil Manji, Manager of CDFW’s Northern Region. “We thank SFI for the award and look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the coming years.”
Because of declining habitat and population losses, fishers in Oregon, Washington and California are proposed for federal listing as a threatened species. Recently the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act.
Beginning in 2009, 40 fishers were captured on public and private timberlands in northwestern California and released onto Sierra Pacific Industries’ Stirling Management Area, east of Chico. The released fishers and their offspring have been studied since that time and the results indicate that a small population was successfully established. The restoration of fishers to this area has strengthened the population of fishers in northern California by expanding their range. It has also created a unique opportunity to study fishers on a landscape managed for multiple objectives including wildlife habitat, ecosystem services and forest products.
This was the first time fishers have been restored to their original habitat in California. The project is a collaborative success story showing how wildlife agencies, universities and private timberland owners can collaborate to conserve wildlife.
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944