Here is a link to recent paper by W. Zielinski and others exploring valuable fisher habit with the use of detailed forest plot inventory data in the northwestern California.
- Posted By: Anne Lombardo
- Written by: Rick Sweitzer and Anne Lombardo
Mowgli and Orphan Annie as young kits
Great News!! The Fisher Science Team of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project have managed to recapture little “Orphan Annie” (aka F39) for the first time since her release nearly a year and a half ago. This young fisher kit is looking good and has grown into a beautiful wild female fisher!
Her mother F31 was killed less than 2 years ago while she was nurturing the kits in a tree den during the denning season. The Fisher Science Team had been tracking F31 so they were able to locate and rescue the kits. After the kits were rescued from their mother's den tree, they were raised as part of a joint effort by the California Department of Fisher and Game, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and a local wildlife rehabilitation group (Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation), along with two kits rescued from a separate mortality incident.
Annie had been tracked until recently by way of a surgically implanted radiotransmitter, but that device ceased transmitting about 45 days ago and she was temporarily lost to the study. So, when we recaptured Annie last week it was great news!! She was very healthy and has established her own territory inside of her mother’s former home range. We are particularly excited that we should be able to track her during her potential first denning attempt this spring. We look forward to tracking her movements during her second year of life.
We are also fortunate to be tracking Mowgli, the male sibling fisher kit released with Orphan Annie. Mowgli is now a strapping young male fisher surviving on his own and we call him M27. Mowgli had been missing since spring of 2011 when his radio collar fell off, so it was very exciting to relocate him as well. Like Annie, Mowgli appears to be very healthy and should be ready to engage in mating this spring based on his large size.
The second mortality incident involved F25, another female fisher our team had been tracking when she died after being struck by a car on a local highway. When F25 died she left behind two other orphan fisher kits in a nearby den tree; F40 (Zosi) and F41 (Paya). F40 was killed in Jan 2011 shortly after her release and F41 has been missing since April 2011. The team is now strategizing on ways to access the area F41 had been using on the south side of the San Joaquin River near Mammoth Pool dam for a trapping attempt. The area where F41 had established a home range is very difficult to access from the north side of the San Joaquin River, so trapping there will be a major logistical challenge.
Ophan Annie January 2012
Mowgli in January 2012
Thank you 185 times over!! The wildlife research team from the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Projectrecently put out a request for the donation of single socks. They use them to hold bait for their camera trap studies of the Pacific fisher. The response was overwhelming and the fisher research team would like to thank all of the people who sorted, dropped off or packaged, waited in line and mailed their recycled socks to them. Your commitment and follow through are remarkable!
The team first got bags of socks from the local high school, and then grocery bags of socks started appearing in a local drop off bin. Soon boxes of socks started arriving by mail. They came from all over California and as far away as Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota, Arkansas and Maryland. The boxes just keep coming: 12 one day, 16 the next, 185 at last count!
During one visit to the post office at Christmas time, we had to roll the bin to the car. Other customers standing in line were trying to hide their envy of our good Christmas fortune!
The team has been purchasing socks for years to hang meat in trees to attract the elusive Pacific fisher, a nocturnal weasel, to motion-detecting cameras. Researchers have had to spend valuable time and money acquiring the socks, but never again!
The wildlife piece of this SNAMP forest study continues, along with our other scientific teams, to look at the effects of the U.S. Forest Service’s thinning projects in the Sierra. These projects are done in our national forests for fire protection and forest health. Our scientific research teams from the University of California are here to look at changes these thinning projects bring to the forest, its water cycle and its wildlife. This collaborative effort is part of state and federal efforts to refine management practices for our beautiful and complex forested ecosystems.
We have collected years of baseline data and welcome the forest thinning work that has begun this summer in both the southern site near Oakhurst and the northern site near Forest Hill. We will continue to follow the movements of the fisher over the next few years to learn more about their responses to the forest management efforts.
But in the meantime, six newspaper stories and four radio interviews later, we stand in awe of the power of the media and social networks. So, for the many cards, letters and emails we got sharing the stories behind the socks, from the drawers of loved ones who passed away to Earth Day projects for school kids, our wildlife crew is buoyed by your thoughts and support! Our faith in people’s attention to kind details in life is renewed! Thank you!
- Posted By: Susie Kocher
- Written by: Anne Lombardo, UCCE Mariposa County
But what kind of research could go through hundreds of socks a month? After years of experimentation, the research team has determined that socks are the ideal receptacle for hanging fisher bait in trees. The researchers are going through 250 pair a month, at a considerable cost, to create the “chicken in a sock” bait stations.
Besides the cost, chief scientist Dr. Rick Sweitzer is spending too much time in the Wal-Mart checkout line with a cart full of socks.
The scientists don’t need new socks; they would prefer old, unmatched, non-holey ones, something every American has cluttering up their sock drawers. You know the ones!
So, in an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, the SNAMP wildlife research team is putting out a call for lost and lonely socks. Socks may be delivered or mailed to 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst CA 93644. For more information contact Anne Lombardo at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more about the research project visit the SNAMP website.
Other wildlife are also attracted to the bait stations:
- Posted By: Susie Kocher
- Written by: Lauren Sommer, KQED News December 14, 2011
Pacific fishers aren't well-known in California. "They're very elusive," says Rick Sweitzer, a fisher researcher at UC Berkeley. "Most people have never seen a fisher because they spend most of their time in the trees." The dark-brown mammals are closely related to weasels.
Fishers once ranged throughout the Sierra Nevada, but their numbers have declined dramatically. Trappers caught them for their fur until it was outlawed in 1946. Clear-cutting drastically reduced the old-growth forests they favor. Now, fishers exist in two isolated populations in the northern and southern Sierras. Sweitzer studies the population south of Yosemite.
Since fishers aren't easy to find, Sweitzer documents them with 500 motion-activated cameras. He attracts them by hanging a meat-filled sock from a tree. "It takes them a little bit of time to chew the sock apart to get at the meat, so we get a lot of photographs."
Sweitzer goes through 2,000 socks a year, so he decided to get the public involved. He's asking for donations of gently-used socks.
"My real motivation for this sock drive is so that I don't have to stand in line at Walmart with two or three cartloads full of all the socks I can find. I get a lot of stares and a lot of interesting questions."
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering whether the Pacific fisher will be listed under the Endangered Species Act, in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups. A group of fishers was released earlier this year near Chico in the hope that the animal will return to its historic range.
If you have socks to spare, you can mail them to the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project at this address:
40799 Elliott Drive
Oakhurst, CA 93644