On October 6, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a news release (pdf) announcing its proposal to list the West Coast Distinct Population Segment (West Coast DPS) of fisher (Pekanian pennanti) as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), in part due to significant threats from illegal marijuana farming.
The fisher belongs to a family of mammals that includes weasels and otters, and grows to about the size of a large house cat. The Federal Register notice (pdf) regarding the proposed listing, which was published yesterday, states that the West Coast DPS of fisher satisfy the definition of a "threatened" species under the ESA because it is "likely to become endangered throughout all of its range" within 40 years. The notice also states that the main threats to the West Coast DPS are "habitat loss from wildfire and vegetation management, as well as toxicants, and the cumulative impact and synergistic effects of these and other stressors in small populations." With respect to threats from toxicants, the news release identifies the use of rodenticides by illegal marijuana cultivation sites as a signficiant threat to the species.
The West Coast DPS of fisher is located in California, Oregon, and Washington. The Service has currently scheduled one public hearing in Redding, California, and seven public informational meetings to discuss the proposed listing. Further, according to the notice, the Service will be accepting public comments on the proposed listing through January 5, 2015.