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First wild fishers born in North Cascades in decades

A female fisher was seen with kits, which biologists say is the first indication the North Cascades can support a reproductive population of fishers.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: The above video originally aired in Dec. 2018 when fishers were released in the North Cascades.

The first wild fishers to be born in the North Cascades in decades have been identified.

A coalition of wildlife agencies announced the discovery Monday, saying a female fisher, which is a member of the wolverine family, was detected on a trail camera in April. The fisher was photographed moving four kits at her den in western Chelan County.

Fishers are native to Washington forests but were eliminated by the mid-1900s through trapping and habitat loss.

Wildlife managers said fisher F105’s kits could be the North Cascades’ first fishers born in the wild in “perhaps half a century.”

“Seeing her and her kits is a wonderful first indication that the North Cascades Ecosystem can support a reproductive population of fishers, and it’s a great sign for fisher recovery in Washington,” Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Dr. Jeff Lewis said in a statement. “We have high hopes that we will find additional females in the North Cascades having kits this spring.”

Credit: National Park Service
Captured on a National Park Service wildlife camera, female fisher F105 carries a kit in her mouth in western Chelan County on April 18, 2021.

To restore the species in Washington, 89 fishers were released into the North Cascades and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest between 2018 and 2020. Another 81 fishers were released in the southern Cascades from 2015 to 2020. More than 250 fishers have been reintroduced to Washington since releases first began near Olympic National Park in 2008, according to the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

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The female kit caught on camera in Chelan County was released west of Darrington in December 2018.

Fishers were listed as a state endangered species in 1998, and wildlife managers say establishing viable populations is important to downlisting the species.

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