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Dec. 8, 2022

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Groups file suit over denial of endangered species protection for West Coast fishers

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CENTRALIA — The Center for Biological Diversity and two other environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Sept. 13 against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) after its denial of endangered species protection status for West Coast fishers.

The other two agencies involved in filing the suit were the Environmental Protection Information Center and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. The lawsuit was filed to the United States District Court, Northern District of California.

Fishers are midsized forest carnivores whose habitat used to stretch throughout most of the West Coast. Logging and fur-trapping led to a drastic decrease in fishers by the 1950s and now face threats from rodenticides used by cannabis farmers and climate change issues including increased forest fires, according to the environmental groups.

The remaining fisher population is now limited to northern California and southern Oregon while additional populations have been translocated to the southern Oregon Cascades and Washington.

“I’m deeply concerned about the survival of the mysterious fisher and the old-growth forests it calls home,” said Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity endangered species director, in a news release. “These tenacious animals can eat porcupines, but they can’t survive the damage we’re doing to their forests. Fishers needed Endangered Species Act protection 20 years ago, and they need it even more today.”

This lawsuit is just the latest in a litany of legal actions going all the way back to 2000 when the Center for Biological Diversity filed its first petition to the FWS to get West Coast fishers listed as threatened throughout various Pacific Northwest habitats.

The trigger for this lawsuit was a 2020 decision by the FWS that removed protection for fishers on the entire West Coast except for the southern Sierra Nevada region.

“Fishers have it rough. From rodenticide poisoning, to habitat loss from logging and fires, these tenacious critters face significant threats to their continued existence,” said George Sexton, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center conservation director, in a news release.

The full lawsuit can be viewed online at https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/fisher/pdfs/West-Coast-Fisher-Complaint-2022-09-13.pdf.

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