Southern Sierra Carnivore Monitoring

Two fishers, likely a mother and her kit, at a survey station (Jody Tucker/U.S. Forest Service Region 5).

Dead trees along a forest road on the Sequoia National Forest in May 2016 (U.S. Forest Service).

A diverse array of carnivores lives in the forests of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Biologists with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Carnivore Monitoring Program  conduct annual, systematic surveys to determine the presence of different carnivore species and the impacts of changes in environmental conditions. The program began in 2002 and uses remote cameras, sooted track plates, and genetics to survey over 12,240 km2, an area the size of Connecticut.

Drought and subsequent tree mortality are profoundly changing the forests of the southern and central Sierra Nevada. The U.S. Forest Service estimates there are 100 million dead trees, representing a major disturbance that will profoundly affect both human and biological communities. INR is collaborating with U.S. Forest Service colleagues to determine how these environmental changes are affecting occupancy patterns of fisher and other forest-dwelling species.