Evaluation of fisher (Pekania pennanti) restoration in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Recovery Area: 2015 final annual progress report

Natural Resource Report NPS/OLYM/NRR—2016/1274
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With the translocation and release of 90 fishers (Pekania pennanti) from British Columbia to Olympic National Park during 2008–2010, the National Park Service (NPS) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) 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 3–8 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 2015, 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-km2 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 2015, Federal, State, Tribal and NGO biologists and volunteers established three Distributioned motion-sensing camera stations, paired with hair snaring devices, in 87 hexes; 75 in the targeted area and 12 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 7 of the 87 hexagons. Four fishers were identified through microsatellite DNA analyses. The 4 identified fishers included 1 of the original founding population of 90 and 3 new recruits to the population. Three additional fishers were detected with cameras but not DNA, consequently their identities were unknown. All fisher detections were in the target area. Additionally, we identified 46 other species of wildlife at the baited camera stations. We also obtained 4 additional confirmed records of fishers in the study area through photographs provided by the public and incidental live capture.

During 2016, we plan to resample 69 hexagons sampled in the target area in 2014 and 12 new hexes in the expansion area. In addition, we plan to sample non-selected hexes in-between hexes where we had a cluster of fishers in 2014, to provide better understanding of occupancy patterns and minimum number of individuals in an area where fishers appear to be concentrating.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Evaluation of fisher (Pekania pennanti) restoration in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Recovery Area: 2015 final annual progress report
Series title Natural Resource Report
Series number NPS/OLYM/NRR—2016/1274
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher National Park Service
Publisher location Fort Collins, CO
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description ix, 34 p.
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Olympic Peninsula
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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