The Game Commission is seeking public input on a draft fisher management plan which outlines the historic and current status of fishers, population recovery, species-specific goals and management recommendations.
Public comments are due June 1.
"We are seeking public comment on the draft fisher management plan to ensure the resulting final management plan considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about this species," said Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. "As written, the plan is science-based, progressive and promotes responsible management.
We're interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we've missed something or if they share our management vision for the future."
Developed by Dr. Matthew Lovallo, agency Game Mammals Section supervisor, the fisher management plan provides a comprehensive and current summary of fisher biology; historic and current status in Pennsylvania; population recovery; economic significance; public interest; and regional population and harvest management approaches.
The plan also provides supporting objectives and strategies to achieve species-specific goals related to: population monitoring; habitat assessment; population enhancement; and development and implementation of a harvest management program.
Pennsylvania's fisher reintroduction got started back in 1994, when 22 fishers were released on the Sproul State Forest in Centre and Clinton counties. Overall, 190 fishers were released in Pennsylvania as part of a reintroduction partnered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Frostburg State University and Pennsylvania State University.
The recovery effort followed about eight decades of fisher-less forests in Penn's Woods. The furbearers, one of the largest members of the weasel family, disappeared in the state in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a result of deforestation and unregulated trapping.
Since the fisher reintroduction program, which ran from 1994 to 1998, fishers have made great progress expanding their range from release sites in the Quehanna Wild Area, Allegheny National Forest, Pine Creek Valley and the Pocono Mountains. Fishers also have been expanding their range northward from the Mason-Dixon line deeper and deeper into the Alleghenies and the state's Ridge and Valley province since the 1980s.
In 2006, the Game Commission teamed with Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a research project that aims to provide wildlife managers with a better understanding of fishers, a rapidly expanding furbearer resource in the Commonwealth (See Release #102-06).
"The occurrence of fishers in Pennsylvania is the result of fishers expanding their range from states bordering ours and fishers being reintroduced here and in West Virginia," Lovallo said. "Early results of this study show that the fishers inhabiting Pennsylvania's southwestern and southcentral counties were not released by the Game Commission. It appears from our study that this portion of the state was colonized by the progeny of 23 New Hampshire fishers released in West Virginia in 1969. Most other areas of Pennsylvania, however, are inhabited by fishers that were released by the Game Commission instate during the '90s."
Public comments on the agency's fisher management plan should be send to: Fisher Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.