The football game wasn't going my way; so I decided to get physical and pull 3 cameras that had been soaking in the rain.
I headed up Skyway, parked the truck, mountain-biked a couple miles, surmounted a blow-down across the trail, and fell on my butt on the way down the ravine.
The first camera was dry, but three bears had bumped it off target during a bumble-fest of scent-rubbing.
The news from the second camera was good and bad.
The bad news was the water in the case; it shorted a circuit and shuttered pictures like a machine gun.
The good news was a photo of a radio-collared fisher.
And the camera in the next ravine had more pictures of the same critter.
|Discovering the scent lure|
California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) have joined forces to restore the fisher to the northern Sierra Nevada.
This radio-collared animal might be one of 40 fishers that were translocated from the northwest corner of the state to SPI land near Stirling City.
But it could also be one of the 48 offspring born to the colonizers over the past three years.
The historical occurrence of fisher in California has been a puzzle.
California's great academic naturalist, Joseph Grinnell, assumed fishers ranged throughout the Sierra Nevada.
Since Grinnell's time however, fishers were found to be missing from a 420 km section of the northern Sierra Nevada.
This "dead zone" is an enigma, because the habitat seems to have everything a fisher needs . . . a fisher-friendly climate, lots of trees, water, cover, squirrels, and maybe even a few porcupine.
Biologists have assumed that logging and trapping divided the population, leaving one in the southern Sierra Nevada and the other in the Trinity Alps and coastal mountains of NW California.
A recent study based on DNA from museum specimens and living animals tells a different story.
California's fishers became divided populations about 1000 years ago.
In other words, we can't blame the fisher gap on the Spanish colonization of California and the gold-lust-mayhem of the 49ers.
The two populations are now genetically different, which raises questions about their conservation.
Like, should we connect the northern and southern populations, and risk genetic pollution of their gene pools?
Or should we colonize the gap with fishers and brace the population against future environmental unknowns?
I rather like the idea of filling the fisher gap. California's just an experiment, isn't it?
Having a few more fishers around makes the place more interesting.
their natural history, systematic status, and relations to man. University of California Press, Berkeley. 375 p.
Powell, RA, RC Swiers, AN Facka, S Matthews, and D Clifford. 2013. Reintroduction of Fishers into the Northern Sierra Nevada of California, Annual Report for 2013 For the period of October 2009 to December 2013, 35 pp.