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Old-Growth Critter Gets Good News

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12 March 2009, 10:55 AM
State Fish and Game Commission votes to grant candidate status

Reversing its August 2008 decision, the California Fish and Game Commission recently voted to grant candidate status to the Pacific fisher under the California Endangered Species Act.

This begins the review process to determine if full protection is warranted.

Earthjustice and our colleagues at Center for Biological Diversity have worked to protect the fisher for many years, so this policy reversal is very good news.

The fisher (Martes pennanti) lives in old growth forests and is a close relative of the marten.

Fishers once lived throughout the Sierra Nevada, northern California, and western Oregon and Washington. However, as a result of logging, trapping and development, the fisher's range has been greatly reduced. Native populations of Pacific fisher have been completely extirpated from Washington and Oregon, and they remain in only 50 percent of their historical range in California.

The fisher is also a candidate for federal protection. In 2000, Earthjustice and the Center submitted a petition to list the Pacific fisher under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 2004, the Bush administration determined that the Pacific fisher warranted protection, but that such protection was precluded by lack of resources.

Earthjustice will encourage the new administration to move quickly to grant the Pacific fisher protection under federal law.

This is great news, but unfortunately risk remains to these animals. Fish and Game plans to soon capture up to 40 of these rare animals from the North Coast of California and release them on the lands of California's largest forest destroyer, Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI). SPI will not have to set aside any land for these animals or change their logging practices typified by clearcut type logging and the conversion of natural forests to tree plantations. There are too few of these vulnerable creatures to subject them to this. Anyone concerned should contact Fish and Game immediately and urge them to stop this crazy plan.

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