Outdoors Report: Studying the fisher in Western Montana

Posted at 2:26 PM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-08 13:34:04-04

SUPERIOR – Wildlife biologists spent time trudging through the backcountry looking for the elusive fisher over the winter to help to learn more about Montana’s forest carnivores.

Wildlife biologists spent the last few weeks picking up cameras and collecting hair samples from remote Western Montana sites.

The stations were left out all winter to learn more about Montana’s secretive fisher.

“This survey is designed to be used for trend in the population, but also what is and what isn’t fisher habitat in Montana,” said Bob Inman with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Fisher are a medium sized weasel that need large trees with cavities to survive.

In the Northern Rockies, fisher are primarily found in Idaho, but the survey will help Montana biologists know where fisher can survive in the state.

“What we expect to find in this survey is that fisher have a pretty limited natural distribution in Montana that would be in the very westernmost part of the state,” Inman said.

Knowing where fisher can survive long term will allow wildlife managers to conserve fisher in the future.

“If we were to find large pieces of habitat that are suitable for fisher that have the right conditions, but don’t seem to have fisher there now,” Inman stated.

“Then yes, we would consider translocation as a tool to put them back to where they likely used to be and could be in the future.”

This winter’s fisher survey is part of a larger FWP effort to learn more about Montana’s forest carnivores.

“This is part of that effort of trying to have better information, more information, so we can manage those forest carnivores better,” Inman said.

FWP expects survey results in a year.

-Winston Greeley reporting for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks