For Immediate Release
Lawsuit Seeks State Protection for Rare Forest Mammal
California Fish and Game Commission Ignored Studies Showing That Fishers Face Significant Threats
SAN FRANCISCO - The Center for Biological
Diversity filed suit today challenging the California Fish and Game
Commission’s decision to deny state Endangered Species Act protection to
the Pacific fisher, a rare, forest-dwelling carnivore. The Center is
assisted by lawyers at Earthjustice.
in old-growth forests along the West Coast. Today, because of logging,
trapping and development among other factors, fishers are almost extinct
in Washington and Oregon, and just two small
populations remain in California: one in the Klamath Region and another
in the southern Sierra Nevada. These isolated populations are at
substantial risk from logging, habitat fragmentation, disease, traffic
trouble and yet the Fish and Game Commission ignored that information
and refused to throw it a lifeline,” said Justin Augustine, a Center
attorney. “Now we’re going to court to get the protections
that fishers need and deserve.”
fisher as a threatened or endangered species under the California
Endangered Species Act. The Commission initially tried to reject the
petition without conducting a full scientific review.
Only after the Center exposed correspondence showing that many of the
Department of Fish and Game’s own scientists believed fishers may be at
risk of extinction did the Commission reverse course and direct the
Department to conduct a full review. At the conclusion
of that review, Department managers again ignored their own scientists,
as well as peer reviewers, and significantly altered a draft of the
status review to downplay threats to the fisher.
California was heavily criticized by independent biologists. Only the
timber industry supported the Department’s decision to recommend against
state protection. The Commission denied the
petition September 15.
fishers left in the entire Sierra Nevada,” said Greg Loarie, an
attorney at Earthjustice. “If ever there were an animal that desperately
needs protection, this is it.”
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