Gifford Pinchot Fisher and Marten Project

The conservation of forest-obligate carnivores is a pressing priority for land managers, regulatory agencies, and tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest following decades of unregulated trapping for fur, predator-control campaigns, and habitat loss related to logging and development. The consequences of a changing climate threaten to further affect species persistence through decreasing snow packs, increasing wildfire frequency and severity, and changing forest-pathogen dynamics. Two species of particular conservation concern in the Pacific Northwest are fishers and martens. Fishers were extirpated from Washington and from all but southern Oregon by the mid-1900s and martens are expected to suffer range contractions and further population declines as high-elevation forests are altered by a changing climate.

As a conservation measure for fisher, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and partners reintroduced fishers from central British Columbia to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the southern Cascade Mountains of Washington between 2015 and 2017. However, the success of this effort is unknown. Fishers are a predator of marten and directly compete with them. The effect of the fisher reintroduction effort on marten populations remains unexplored.

We surveyed for fishers and martens with remote cameras between 2019 and 2021 to estimate their distribution, co-occurrence, and habitat relationships. We are currently identifying species photographed by the remote cameras and modeling species detection data.