Posts Tagged: Pacific fisher
Since 2006, a team of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists has been studying the effects of vegetation management in the Sierra Nevada forest on fire behavior, forest health, water quality and quantity, the Pacific fisher (a small mammal in the weasel family) and the California spotted owl. The researchers are writing up their final reports and seeking public feedback on their recommendations and next steps in the process.
On Wednesday, May 27, community members are invited to discuss the recommendations with the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP) team at an all-day meeting in the Sacramento area.
“Although adaptive management as a theory of practice in resource management has been in the literature for decades, few studies have been done to truly apply theory to actual practice,” said Susie Kocher, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension forestry and natural resources advisor for the Central Sierra area.
The US Forest Service's 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment calls for managing the 11 national forests in the Sierra Nevada using the best information available to protect forests and homes. SNAMP is designed to provide resource managers with research-based information for making forest management decisions.
The SNAMP meeting will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 27 at the Wildland Fire Training Center, 3237 Peacekeeper Way in McClellan (near McClellan Airfield outside Sacramento).
To attend, please register at http://ucanr.edu/snamp2015annualmeeting by Sunday, May 24. Registration is free.
For more information about the project, visit http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu. The final SNAMP report will be available for download at http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu/snamp-final-report. Comments will be accepted online at http://ucanr.edu/snampreportcomments until July 15.
The fishers are being monitored by a team of scientists affiliated with the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), a joint effort by the University of California, state and federal agencies and the public to study management of forest lands in the Sierra Nevada.
To learn the animals' habits and habitat, the SNAMP wildlife team has placed radio-tracking collars on about 100 fishers over the years, with around 30 collared at any given time. When animals being monitored die, they are collected to determine the cause. Anti-coagulants were found in the livers of 90 percent of the fishers.
A likely source is rodenticides left behind at illegal marijuana grows in the forest, the article said.
"SNAMP discovered the rodenticide poisoning issue in the fisher population, and we knew we needed to find some money to clean up the raided sites," said Anne Lombardo, SNAMP representative based in Oakhurst, Calif. "That's our contribution to putting science on the ground."
Nov. 5 - 14 about 100 volunteers and agency personnel cleaned up 13 Sierra Nevada marijuana cultivation sites to restore habitat, and remove risks to wildlife. The teams dismantled and remediated sites previously raided or partially cleaned up, and documented and removed all toxicants found.
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.
Wildlife statistics gathered by the California Roadkill Observation System created by the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis have recorded almost 22,000 animal deaths on California roads in the last four years. Roads are an additional danger beyond those that Mother Nature already has in store for the wildlife of our state and it is one we bear the responsibility for. The loss of each animal affects its population numbers, it reproductive capacity and any babies left behind in its nests. But if an animal does not cross roads, it can result in genetic isolation in wildlife populations and loss of habitat.
For the Pacific fisher research team of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), roadkill is very much a concern. They have been tracking the Pacific fisher, a nocturnal forest dwelling weasel, in the southern Sierra for the last five years. Their goal has been to identify the effects that forest thinning in may have on the fisher. In their careful tracking, they have recorded the deaths of nine of these rare animals on Highway 41, which cuts through the study area on its way to Yosemite. This is an important number considering the isolated population is estimated to be only about 300 individuals south of the Merced River; and these are only the roadkill incidents we know about.
In the team’s search for solutions to the roadkill issue, they have assembled a Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Group with the Forest Service, Yosemite National Park, Defenders of Wildlife and Caltrans to search for any possible solutions. Members of the SNAMP Wildlife Team put cameras in culverts passing beneath Highway 41 from Oakhurst to Yosemite to see if they were being used as a possible alternate route. (For details see the Sierra Nevada Highway Culvert Product, pdf). The good news is that many animals, including fisher, were found to be using road culverts to pass beneath the road, avoiding collisions with cars. This provides some hope that maintenance of the entrances and exits of existing culverts offers a safe alternative to road crossing for wildlife.
Who would have thought old socks could drive a media storm? A call from participants in UC's Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project for donations of gently used socks for Pacific fisher research generated a flurry of response, and now the overwhelming public response resulted in a front-page story in the Sacramento Bee. The article also ran on the front page of the Fresno Bee.
Bee writer Matt Weiser reported that bulging padding envelopes and duct-taped boxes filled with socks trickled in at first. In time, boxes of socks from Girl Scout troops and elementary schools forced the researchers to wheel their mail from the post office in carts.
"We basically generated several truckloads," said UC Berkeley associate adjunct professor Rick Sweitzer. "It was incredible."
Sweitzer said Weiser had called him last week to ask about porcupines in California. Weiser said he and his wife had sent socks themselves last December. When he heard about the unexpected outpouring of socks, he turned his immediate attention to telling that story.