With the frightening decline in species during the past century or so, it's always good to hear efforts to boost numbers of a plant, bird, fish or animal to bring them back from the brink of extinction.
So I welcomed the news today that Olympic National Park officials are considering a plan to return fishers, a small, furry, house-cat sized mammal, to the park's dense forests.
If anything is disconcerting about this proposal, it's the park's slowness in announcing it. I say that because tomorrow night, the 10th of January, there will be a meeting at 7 p.m. at the park's visitor center in Port Angeles to provide the public with information on the proposal.
Fishers have been considered endangered by the state of Washington since 1998, although the federal government does not list the animal as either threatened or endangered. Once native to Washington's Olympic Peninsula, fishers were wiped out by heavy trapping during the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as due to the loss of forested habitat.
The state of Washington finally outlawed the trapping of fishers in 1934, but by then regional populations were so low that the animals couldn't naturally repopulate their historical habitat.
A scoping period on this proposal runs through February 10th. During that time the public can suggest issues park biologists should consider during their preparation of an Environmental Assessment examining the proposed recovery program. You can either comment via website, or by mailing your thoughts to Superintendent-Fisher Reintroduction, Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, Washington, 98362.
You can even fax your thoughts to 360-565-3015.
If park officials do indeed decide to move ahead with a fisher recovery program, it likely wouldn't get under way before late this year or early in 2007. The stock population would come from western Canada.