Out & About: Fishers back home in Olympics

SUNDAY, AUG. 17, 2014

The fisher, a member of the weasel family, is being re-introduced to Washington.
 (The Spokesman-Review)
The fisher, a member of the weasel family, is being re-introduced to Washington. (The Spokesman-Review)

OUTFIELD – Once locally extinct, fishers are bounding all over the Olympic Peninsula.

First released into Olympic National Park in 2008 in an effort to repopulate the native carnivore, they now range from Neah Bay to Ocean Shores, from Port Townsend to Olympia, preliminary data from remote cameras and hair snags confirm.

It’s a spectacular turnaround for an animal believed to be locally extinct for at least 80 years. Over-trapping of fishers for their luxuriant, lush brown coats and loss of the big, old-growth trees in which fishers like to lounge and den caused populations to plummet. The state closed the trapping season for fishers in the 1930s.

Some of the new kits have ranged as far as 43 miles from their mothers’ home territory, and cameras have found fishers using habitat where the radio-collared animals were never tracked, documenting that the fishers continue to gain ground.

Sharp-toothed and clawed, fishers are related to minks, polecats and martens. They hunt the small mammals that are abundant in the Olympics.

Fishers do face perils in their new home. Cougars, bobcats and coyotes take their toll. Several fishers were apparent road kill, including one carcass recovered along Highway 101 on the outskirts of Port Angeles.

Wolves are now the only mammal still missing from the original suite of life in the Olympics, after being shot and trapped to local extinction in the early 1900s.

Junior Rifle Team invites new shooters

OUTGUN – The Spokane Junior Rifle Team, which has produced several world-class shooters since it was founded nearly 50 years ago, will hold an open house for prospective members on Thursday at the Spokane Rifle Club’s indoor range along the Spokane River.

“Many Spokane kids have attended college on NCAA shooting scholarships and several have gone to regional, national and international competitions, including the Olympic Games,” said coach Michael Furrer.

He should know. His daughter, Amanda Furrer, shot her way to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Boys and girls age 10-18 interested in marksmanship as a sport or hobby are invited to the informal introduction, he said.

Info: spokanerifleclub.com.

State Parks offer free day

OUTGOING –Washington State Parks are offering free day on Aug. 25, when no Discover Pass will be required for vehicle entry.

The Discover Pass – a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on lands managed by State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife – was created by the legislature to help fund state parks.

The Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by WDFW and DNR on the free day.

Two more free days remain this year at state parks, Sept. 27 and Nov. 11.

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