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Missing Fishers to be Considered for the Protected List

A species so seldom seen in the greater Yellowstone area that biologists think it may have never regularly occurred here is being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal wildlife managers announced last month that they will prepare an official status review for the little-understood and genetically distinct Northern Rockies population of the fisher. They will assess not only if the existence of fishers in the region is threatened but if fishers ought to be added to the list of federally protected species that live in the Equality State.

It’s an open debate whether the weasel-like critter qualifies as a missing native species of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, though in recent years managers seem to have decided they likely weren’t present historically.

“One of the things that we’re grappling with right now is, ‘What constitutes a verified historical sighting?’” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jim Boyd said. “As you can imagine, there’s data all across the board — everything from fisher in hand or genetic data saying this is definitely a fisher to the other end, like someone saying they saw one.”

Fish and Wildlife hopes to answer that question through the status review process, which will take about a year. The outcome will determine if northwest Wyoming is included in the “distinct population segment” of fishers that, in greater numbers, occupy Montana and Idaho.

The last time fishers were considered for protection, in 2011, federal wildlife managers determined the forest-dwelling mustelid wasn’t in danger of being wiped out of the Northern Rockies. At the time, northwest Wyoming was included in the proposed distinct population segment, meaning managers presumed they were present.

Read full article: Missing Fishers to be Considered for the Protected List by Mike Koshmrl, JHNewsandGuide

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