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This fourth year of the study continues the monitoring efforts on 53 den boxes installed during this project

Author:  L. Davis

Old Reference Number:  COA-F17-W-1319

Old Reference System:  FWCP Fish Wildlife Compensation Program - Coastal

Date Published:  Mar 2017

Report ID:  52621

Audience:  Government and Public

Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are a threatened species (S2S3) in British Columbia and are a high priority for conservation efforts. Fishers are the largest obligate tree-cavity user in North America and this study seeks to determine if the species will use artificial den boxes for reproduction. Trees with characteristics of natural fisher dens are naturally rare in forested landscape and changes to the forest landbase resulting from hydro-electric development, insect infestations, forest-harvest activities, and large-scale fires are likely to have decreased the supply of these elements. This fourth year of the study continues the monitoring efforts on 53 den boxes installed during this project. Monitoring during the reproductive season (late March to June) identified four den boxes that were used for reproduction. Three of the structures used were in the Bridge Watershed and one was in the Chilcotin. All 4 den boxes were new, bringing the total number of den boxes used to 6 over the 3 denning seasons we have monitored. An average of 2 kits were observed at the den boxes. We also collected information on fisher prey by observing one female bring several items of prey back to the den box. Modeling of habitat attributes at reproductive den box sites did not produce significant results, although den boxes in forests younger (<80 years) were never used by fisher for reproductive or other uses. Increasing the number of reproductive den boxes may help clarify which variables are important for fisher use. This will be the focus of monitoring during our last field season. The project videos continue to provoke interest and enquiries about the project. For example, den boxes have been installed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and a biologist from Alberta Environment and Parks will be constructing several structures to deploy in the Red Deer area. Other extension efforts included liaising with groups using artificial den boxes to offset habitat losses at the Site C hydro-electric, making reports and plans available on the website, and presentations to the forest industry in Prince George and Williams Lake. All extension includes information on our funding partners. Lastly, this results of this project help the Bridge-Coastal Restoration Program achieve several of their specific objectives for the Bridge River watershed. The primary Action/Watershed Plan that this project aligns with is the Species Based Action Plan. Fisher are a high priority for FWCP investment and the results of this project are helping meet Objective 1: maintain or improve the status of species or ecosystems of concern. Fisher have low reproductive output and populations in the area are benefiting from the addition of reproductive habitat. The project also provides a specific opportunity to enhance riparian areas that are degraded or sub-optimal (Riparian and Wetlands Action Plan) by providing a proven mitigation strategy that will supply fisher reproductive habitat for the short to mid-term until longer term measures, such as fungal inoculation, can increase the availability of cavity-bearing trees.

Report Type
  Terrestrial Information
  Mammals - Fisher: Martes pennanti
  Region - Cariboo

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