Posts Tagged: endangered species
Four Pacific fisher kits who were returned to the wild last week will be closely monitored by UC Berkeley wildlife biologists who are interested in knowing how the animals assimilate to the forest after being reared in captivity, according to the Fresno Bee.
The kits were rescued last May, when their mothers - part of a multi-year Pacific fisher study - were killed, one by a bobcat, the other by a car. UC Berkeley wildlife biologist Rick Sweitzer delivered the animals to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, where they were nursed to health.
Zoo veterinarian Lewis Wright told Bee reporter Marc Benjamin that zoos are preferable to ordinary veterinary hospitals for weasel-like fishers because the wild animals are susceptible to dog and cat illnesses. The juvenile fishers were later pen reared near Bass Lake.
The fisher rescue and release became part of the seven-year Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project, in which fishers are fitted with radio transmitter collars and monitored to study their fate in a forest ecosystem subject to timber harvest and development.
Currently 23 fishers are monitored daily. Scientists surgically implanted transmitters in the four fishers released last week to eliminate the risk of losing their collars.
A fisher peeks out of a temporary enclosure during release.
UC Davis researchers' recent confirmation that Sierra Nevada red fox is still roaming the forest 200 miles further south than thought could ignite a political battle about endangered species, according to an article by Michael Doyle of McClatchy News Service.
California law currently protects the fox, but the federal Endangered Species Act does not. According to the McClatchy story, it is a long, politically charged process to add an animal to the federal list, and the local congressman, George Radanovich, is unlikely to support such a move.
"Our state water supply has been hijacked by the radically irresponsible Endangered Species Act," Radanovich said in a House speech last year, according to the story.
A Sept. 2 UC Davis news release about the red fox find has captivated the media. The release, picked up by dozens of news outlets and blogs, said DNA analysis of saliva from the tooth punctures on a bait bag allowed UC Davis wildlife genetics researchers Ben Sacks and Mark Statham to determine for certain that the animal is a Sierra Nevada red fox.
"It's got a genetic signature that we haven't seen outside of the skulls and skins of museum specimens collected before 1926," Sacks was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "So we now have two small, isolated populations, and we don't know how big the second group is. That's about as endangered as you can get."
Federal biologists, UC Davis genetics researchers and university students began setting up additional monitoring stations and cameras to try to determine the size and health of the Sonora Pass population.
"It is very unusual to discover a new large animal species," a Forest Service spokeswoman told the Times. "In this case, it was like finding a rare jewel in a totally unexpected place."
UC Davis wildlife genetics researcher Ben Sacks holds a native Sacramento Valley red fox.
Five Pacific fisher orphans were featured on Fresno's KSEE Channel 24 news last Friday. The story includes great video of the five tiny, weasel-like animals now being cared for at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
The orphaned fishers were rescued by an Oakhurst-based UC Berkeley team that is studying the Pacific fisher population in the southern Sierra Nevada. The animals are the offspring of two fisher females that were part of the study. One was killed by a bobcat, the other hit by a car. Get all the rescue details in this UC news release.
Unfortunately, the Channel 24 story omitted the fact that researchers are looking for support from the community to care for the fishers so they can be returned to the wild. To make a contribution for milk replacement formula and supplies to build a temporary habitat, contact Anne Lombardo of UC Cooperative Extension at email@example.com, (559) 676-0576.
UC research crew member uses tree climbing equipment to reach orphan fishers in an unstable snag.
UC Berkeley wildlife ecology professor Reginald Barrett will present a 15-page letter to the California Fish and Game Commission at their meeting in Monterey tomorrow explaining that a new Department of Fish and Game report about the Pacific fisher misrepresents his input.
The Pacific fisher is a small, nocturnal carnivore that typically perches all day high in large, old-growth pine and oak trees. Related to the mink, otter and marten, fishers historically ranged throughout the mountainous West, from the southern Sierra into Canada. However, only two isolated populations remain today, one in the Sierra Nevada and one near the California-Oregon border.
The Department of Fish and Game submitted its Status Review of the Pacific Fisher in California to the Fish and Game Commission in February. The report concludes the fisher does not warrant protection under the California Endangered Species Act.
In his letter to the Commission, Barrett said he reviewed and commented on a DFG draft report that "is so different in content and tenor from the final (report) that I recommend you request a re-analysis by the panel of reviewers, as would normally be done when a manuscript is substantially modified."Barrett's letter was the basis of a Sacramento Bee story last week that said the new status report was altered by state officials to favor the logging industry.
In 2008, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Fish and Game Commission to list the Pacific fisher under the Endangered Species Act. After at first declining, the commission asked the Department of Fish and Game to prepare the report based on biological information, Barrett said.
"It is evident that more emphasis was placed on timber industry input via personal communications and unpublished industry reports than the scientific literature," Barrett wrote. "What I am concerned about is the fact that the Commission is being given a recommendation by DFG that has apparently gone beyond the expected biological, scientific information to include political and economic considerations."
Consideration of the DFG report is the third item on the commissioners' April 7 agenda. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Beach Resort, 2600 Sand Dunes Drive, Monterey.
A Pacific fisher clings to a tree trunk in the Sierra Nevada.
In a move that might only occur in a county named for a body of water, the Lake County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency last week after Fish and Game officials decided not to stock several local lakes and streams with fish.
Fish and Game made the decision after the Pacific Rivers Council and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit that blamed the fish stocking program for threatening native fish and amphibians, such as the hardhead minnow, spring- and winter-run chinook salmon, California red-legged frog, arroyo toad and foothill yellow-legged frog.
Fish and Game had decided to drop Upper Blue Lake, Cache Creek, Indian Valley Reservoir and Pillsbury Reservoir from agency's fish stocking program this year, according to an article in the Lake County News. For analysis of the fish stocking controversy, reporter Elizabeth Larson turned to the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Lake County, Greg Giusti.
He said the Board's message got through to the state. As of Monday, state officials reacted to the news by removing both Indian Valley Reservoir and Lake Pillsbury from the list of lakes that won't be stocked.
“Those lakes are back to status quo,” Giusti was quoted.
However, Cache Creek and Upper Blue Lake still won't be stocked. Giusti told the reporter that Upper Blue Lake is the county's highest priority when it comes to the stocking question.
Fish and Game will conduct surveys to look for the hardhead minnow and red-legged frog in Upper Blue Lake. If the surveys don't find those species, Fish and Game will recommend to U.S. Fish and Wildlife that the lake be removed from the list.
According to the article, Giusti said the probability of finding the hardhead minnow in Upper Blue Lake is small. However, Cache Creek may never be removed from the list of water bodies that won't be stocked because of the red-legged frog.