- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Once widespread across the high elevation forests of the Sierra Nevada and in the coastal mountains of northwestern California, fishers are now found there only in two small isolated populations. One group lives near the California-Oregon border; the other in the southern Sierra Nevada between Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.
Two research studies of the southern fisher population – one led by the University of California in the Sugar Pine area south of Yosemite and the other led by the U.S. Forest Service in the Kings River watershed – have been documenting the fate of the animals for the past six years. During that time, forests were treated to reduce fire danger by thinning trees under 30 inches in diameter or by smashing down small trees and brush in a process called mastication. The research will determine whether the treatments have an impact on the fisher population. The Kings River project has been led by USFS research ecologist Craig Thompson since its inception. Thompson recently also took over leadership of the Sugar Pine project to complete the final two years.
In the Yosemite area, most of the fisher surveillance has been done by plane using radio telemetry to track fisher with transmitting collars. In the Forest Service study area, the radio telemetry surveillance has been done on the ground.
“Now that we are working more closely together, we have access to many more pictures,” Lombardo said. “They have done a lot of tracking in this area and taken some incredible photos.”
The calendar includes 20 photos of a creature that wildlife lovers rarely get to see because of the Pacific fishers' relatively small population and reclusive habits. Photos include kits with their mothers in the wild and also orphaned kits on their own at a wildlife recovery facility. The calendar marks the days between July 2014 and December 2015.
More information about the fisher projects in the Sierra Nevada may be found on the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project website.
- Posted By: Sandra Willard
- Written by: Jeannette Warnert, (559) 646-6074, firstname.lastname@example.org, Anne Lombardo, (209) 966-2417, email@example.com
The team is part of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), which is examining the effects of forest thinning, as currently done by the U.S. Forest Service, on the health of local wildlife, the forest and water resources. The U.S. Forest Service implements these thinning treatments out of concern for excessive fire risk.
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 baited socks are hung in trees in view of motion-activated cameras. As the animal moves, climbing the tree and chewing on the sock, the camera takes photos that allow the scientists to identify the species.
The researchers are going through 250 pairs a month, at a considerable cost, to create the “chicken in a sock” bait stations to survey the distribution of Pacific fishers in a 500-square-mile area of forest near Bass Lake.
Besides the cost, Rick Sweitzer, UC Berkeley wildlife biologist and project leader. is spending time in the Wal-Mart checkout line with a cart full of socks when he could be doing research. The scientists don’t need new socks; they would prefer old, unmatched, non-holey ones,something everyone has cluttering up their sock drawers.
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.
The Pacific fisher is a small, nocturnal carnivore that perches and dens in large,
old-growth pine and oak trees. Once widespread across the high elevation
forests of the Sierra Nevada and in the coastal mountains of northwestern
California, fishers are now only found in two small isolated populations. One
group lives near the California-Oregon border. The others are in the southern
Data being collected by UC scientists about the movements, habitat preferences and
survival of fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada will be used to aid the
multiple agencies, academic institutions, environmental groups, and mountain
residents who are working together to ensure that long-term wildland management
promotes forest health, wildfire control and wildlife conservation.
EDITORS: A photo of a Pacific fisher grabbing a bait-filled
sock can be downloaded from http://ucanr.org/blogs/Green.