A trail camera in the North Cascades snagged a photo of four fisher kits being moved by their mom, April 18.
The photos are the first proof that the house-cat sized member of the weasel family are naturally reproducing in Washington after being killed off by the mid-1900s. They were listed as a state-endangered species in 1998.
"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," said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Jeff Lewis in a news release. "We have high hopes that we will find additional females in the North Cascades having kits this spring."
A female fisher, F105 was detected on a trail camera moving four kits on April 18, 2021, at her den in western Chelan County, according to a news release from the National Park Service.
Fishers are ferocious hunters and prey on mountain beavers, squirrels, snowshoe hares and porcupines.
The National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Conservation Northwest, and Calgary Zoo released 89 fishers into the North Cascades National Park Service Complex and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest from 2018 — 2020, as part of a effort to restore the species to Washington. Fisher F105 was released on December 13, 2018, west of Darrington, Wash., according to the release.
"Seeing these fishers find their place and thrive brings so much hope to this ecosystem" said NPS Wildlife Biologist Jason Ransom in the release. "It is a product of the kind of collaborative conservation we need to steward a healthy ecosystem, across boundaries."
Since reintroduction, fishers have been detected within and around the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, throughout the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, in parts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and on private lands as far east as Winthrop, Wash.
"Seeing one fisher kit born in the wild North Cascades is a wonder; photos showing a group of wild kits is phenomenal," said Dave Werntz, science and conservation director for Conservation Northwest. "This new family is an auspicious sign that these reintroduced fishers are finding a good home in the North Cascades."
The state recovery plan and implementation plan for fisher reintroduction in the Cascades can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/pekania-pennanti.