Lawsuit Launched to Defend Pacific Fisher From Federal Negligence

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
Craig Thomas, (530) 622-8718

Lawsuit Launched to Defend Pacific Fisher From Federal Negligence

SAN FRANCISCO - The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Forest
Legacy, Environmental Protection Information Center, and
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior over its failure to protect the Pacific fisher
- a relative of the mink and otter that has been decimated by historic
fur trapping and logging of old-growth forests. Following a petition
from the groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged in
2004 that the fisher warranted protection under the Endangered Species
Act, but has yet to provide that protection, arguing that it lacks
resources. The groups' notice asserts that continued delay of
protection for the fisher is illegal because the Service is failing to
make sufficient progress listing species that are waiting for
protection.

"The fisher and hundreds of other
species have been waiting too long for protection," said Noah
Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for
Biological Diversity. "The failure to protect the fisher is nothing but
foot dragging."

The fisher is one of 249 species
that are designated as candidates for listing as endangered species - a
designation that in itself provides no protection. Many have been
waiting decades for protection and most are gravely endangered.
Although lack of resources is the purported reason for delaying
protection for these species, the Obama administration has proposed to
cut funding for listing of endangered species by 5 percent. To date,
the administration has only protected two species under the Endangered
Species Act. By comparison, the Clinton administration protected an
average of 65 species per year.

"Secretary Salazar
is not prioritizing protection of endangered species," said Greenwald.
"With threats from habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and
climate change all on the rise, budget cuts are the last thing the
nation's endangered species need."

The fisher once
roamed from British Columbia to the southern Sierra. Today, it has been
reduced to two native populations - one in the southern Sierra Nevada
and one in Northern California and extreme southwestern Oregon and an
introduced population in the southern Oregon Cascades. These
populations continue to be threatened by logging.

"The
Pacific fisher has been devastated by a combination of historic fur
trapping and logging of its old-growth forest habitats," said Craig
Thomas, executive director of Sierra Forest Legacy. "Without adequate
protection measures on private and federal lands, the fisher will go
extinct."

Background:

Fisher Description and Natural History

The
fisher has a long, slender body with short legs. Its head is
triangular, with a sharp, pronounced muzzle and large, rounded ears.
Fishers are mostly brown, with a long bushy tail. Males range up to 47
inches in length, while females typically only reach 37 inches. Fishers
run in a bounding gait, with their front feet leaping forward together,
followed by the back feet. Unlike other carnivores, such as cats and
dogs, fishers walk on their whole foot.

Contrary
to its name, the fisher does not eat fish. The name probably relates to
a poor translation of the name for the European polecat, which is a
relative of the fisher and is called the fitch ferret, fichet or
fitche. Rather than fish, the fisher has a diverse diet, preying on
small mammals, snowshoe hare, porcupine, and birds, and also eating
carrion, fruit, and truffles. Because it is the only animal that
regularly preys on porcupines, which often kill or damage small trees,
the timber industry reintroduced the fisher to many parts of the United
States, including the southern Cascades of Oregon. The fisher kills
porcupines with repeated bites to the face, devouring the porcupine via
the quill-less underbelly. Where fisher reintroductions have been
successful, porcupines have indeed declined in number.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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