The National Park Service said sightings of at least one of the animals in Yosemite since 2017 meant the little critter ― part of the weasel family ― had extended its range farther north than originally believed:
Park officials said their cameras picked up four images of a fisher, including at least one in color:
Along with the images, the park found two scat samples. The images, scat, evidence from scent-detecting dogs and genetic analysis pointed to between one and six individual fishers in the area.
“Yosemite comprises the northern extent of the southern Sierra Nevada fisher population and these detections extend their range farther north into Yosemite than previously thought,” a park news release noted. “The fisher is a very rare and secretive member of the weasel family, and its population in the southern Sierra is proposed for federal listing.”
This winter’s sightings followed one north of the Merced in 2017, the first in that area in almost a century:
Fishers and several other related animals were hunted nearly to extinction in the 1800s by trappers seeking to sell their pelts, the National Park Service said.
“California banned trapping of fishers in the 1940s but their numbers have continued to decline because of habitat loss from logging, development and severe forest fires,” the agency website stated.
Wildlife officials have been trying for several years to bring fishers back to the area, releasing four kits into Yosemite in 2015. However, as the animals are shy and elusive, sightings were limited, which was why biologists found the images snapped on wildlife cameras this winter to be so encouraging.