Subscribe to Earthjustice
   Please leave this field empty

Pacific Fisher: Warranted, But Precluded

Case Number # 2038

A close relative of the mink, otter, and wolverine, the Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti) once roamed the old-growth forests of the West Coast from Washington state to the Sierra Nevada. As with many other predatory species, however, fisher populations have declined dramatically in recent decades due to trapping, logging, farming, and fire. Survey information indicates that the fisher is likely extirpated from all of Washington, most of Oregon, and at least half of its range in the Sierra Nevada.

Pacific Fisher. (John Jacobsen / U.S. FWS)
Pacific Fisher, Martes pennanti. (John Jacobsen / U.S. FWS)

The California population has been divided into two remnant populations, one in the northwestern part of the state and another small group in the southern Sierra Nevada believed to contain fewer than 500 individuals.

Earthjustice's efforts to protect the fisher began almost a decade ago when we brought suit on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to respond to a petition to list the species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In April 2003, the court agreed with Earthjustice's position and ordered the Service to make a determination under the law. A year later, the Service announced that listing the Pacific fisher under the Act was "warranted, but precluded" by higher priority listing actions. As a result, the fisher joined some 250 other "candidate" species in bureaucratic limbo. Six years later, however, the Service has made little progress in listing candidate species such as the fisher. The current suit will hopefully bring the species the legal protection it deserves before the fisher population declines any further.

Press Releases

Friday, March 22, 2013
California Fish & Game Commission must protect fishers pending final review of listing petition
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
California Fish and Game Commission ignored significant threats to fishers
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
California Fish and Game Commission ignored studies showing that fishers face significant threats
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Mink, otter relative needs old growth forests to survive
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Rare relative of the mink and otter still waiting for protection
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Timber industry lawsuit seeks to halt protection for the Pacific fisher
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Bush administration plays politics while old-growth dependent species heads for extinction
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Administration plays politics while old-growth dependent mammal heads for extinction
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Elusive forest carnivore threatened by Bush administration's plans to increase logging in Sierra Nevada and Pacific Northwest
Wednesday, April 9, 2003
Imperiled species now an important step closer to receiving federal protection