With the translocation and release of 90 fishers (Pekania pennanti) from British Columbia to Olympic National Park during 2008–2010, the National Park Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife accomplished the first phase of fisher restoration in Washington State. Beginning in 2013, we initiated a new research project to determine the current status of fishers on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula 3–5 years after the releases and evaluate the short-term success of the restoration program. Objectives of the study are to determine the current distribution of fishers and proportion of the recovery area that is currently occupied by fishers, determine several genetic characteristics of the reintroduced population, and determine reproductive success of the founding animals through genetic studies.
During 2014, we continued working with a broad coalition of cooperating agencies, tribes, and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to collect data on fisher distribution and genetics using noninvasive sampling methods. The primary sampling frame consisted of 157 24-square-kilometer hexagons (hexes) distributed across all major land ownerships within the Olympic Peninsula target survey area. In 2014 we expanded the study by adding 58 more hexes to an expanded study area in response to incidental fisher observations outside of the target area obtained in 2013; 49 hexes were added south and 9 to the east of the target area. During 2014, federal, state, tribal and NGO biologists and volunteers established three baited motion-sensing camera stations, paired with hair snaring devices, in 80 hexes; 69 in the targeted area 11 in the expansion areas. Each paired camera/hair station was left in place for approximately 6 weeks, with three checks on 2-week intervals. We documented fisher presence in 5 of the 80 hexagons, and identified 5 different fishers through a combination of microsatellite DNA analyses and camera detections. All fisher detections were in the target area. These 5 individuals included 2 of the original founding population of 90, 1 of the 2 rescued and rehabilitated kits that were released in 2010, and 1 new recruit to the population (1 individual was not identified). Additionally, we identified more than 40 other species of wildlife at the baited camera stations. We also obtained eight incidental fisher observations through photographs and carcass retrieval.
During 2015, we plan to sample 75 hexagons in the target area and 12 in the expansion area. We plan to sample all unsampled accessible hexes in the target area (26 hexes), and re-sample accessible hexes sampled in 2013 (49 hexes).
|Title||Evaluation of fisher (Pekania pennanti) restoration in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Recovery Area: 2014 annual progress report|
|Authors||Patricia J. Happe, Kurt J. Jenkins, Thomas J. Kay, Kristy L. Pilgrim, Michael K. Schwartz, Jeffrey C. Lewis, Keith B. Aubry|
|Publication Subtype||Federal Government Series|
|Series Title||Natural Resource Data Series|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center|
Kurt J Jenkins
Kurt J Jenkins