Drug cartels, illegal marijuana farms, and cannabis cultivators are threatening the existence of an already-rare creature (about the size of a house cat) known as the Pacific Fisher along the Pacific coastline. The threat stems from the use of poisonous rodenticides. This week the nocturnal animal was proposed for placement on the Endangered Species list.
“I’m elated that 14 years after we first tried to get these elusive animals protected, they’re finally proposed for the Endangered Species Act protection they need to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Greenwald had first authored a petition to protect the Pacific fisher in 2000.
Deadly, poisonous rodenticides that have been placed throughout public forests in those regions to kill pests that eat and destroy illegally-planted cannabis plants have resulted in the deaths of a large number of the Pacific fishers. Recent studies have found rodenticides in 75 percent of the fishers tested.
Years ago, the fisher population was almost wiped out as a result of deforestation and being hunted for their fur; fishers are members of the weasel family, which includes minks, who are also desirable for their fur.
This time, however, the illegal marijuana industry is the culprit behind their perceived demise. Recent estimates count the Pacific fisher population at about 850, the Chronicle notes.
Conservationists are blaming the lack of significant progress in reintroducing Pacific fishers into places they used to roam in California on the poisoning resulting from pot farming. The use of rodenticides is strictly prohibited in the forests
Contrary to their name, fishers rarely eat fish and feed instead on vegetation, rodents, reptiles, and insects. They are one of only a few known species to feed on porcupines, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. At one point in time, they could be found throughout the Sierra, Klamath, Cascade, and Coastal ranges. They have a life expectancy of approximately 10 years.
“Now more than ever, fishers need protection from old-growth forest logging, trapping, and poisoning,” Greenwald said.
A public hearing on the proposal to place the furry fishers on the endangered species list is scheduled to take place on November 17 in Redding, California.