Fishers (Martes pennanti) are mid-sized carnivores that occur in boreal and sub-boreal forests of British Columbia (Weir 2003). Fishers are currently on the provincial Blue list (vulnerable) and critical habitat requirements for this species are needed for sustainable forest management plans. Current knowledge about the habitat ecology of fishers in central British Columbia has identified large declining cottonwood trees as characteristic of maternal denning habitat (Weir 2003, Weir and Harestad 2003). Additionally, fishers in central BC appear to rely on large coarse woody debris as thermal cover during periods of extreme cold (Weir et al. 2004). However, in the Peace region of northeastern British Columbia, fishers appear to be abundant in spite of the relative rarity of these important habitat features. Thus, current habitat management guidelines under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) may not be relevant or effective for fishers in the Peace region. These gaps in the knowledge of the habitat relationships of fishers in this region hamper the ability of forest licensees to adequately manage for fisher habitat as part of their sustainable forest management plans. Detailed habitat ecology information is required to ensure that habitat protection and management for fishers in these areas is appropriate and effective. Forest managers need to determine if current stand-level management practices in use in the Peace region are sufficient to supply natal and maternal denning sites and cold weather refuges for fishers. Knowledge of these habitat requirements for this region will support revisions to the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy (IWMS) account for this species that better reflect these needs. Knowledge of fisher habitat ecology in this region lacks the scientific foundation that exists in other part of their provincial range (Weir 2003). To help address these gaps, a radiotelemetry research project was initiated by Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. in 2005. This multi-year project will enable science-based sustainable forest management that will address critical natal and maternal denning habitat for fishers in this region and facilitate habitat supply analyses to ensure that fisher habitat is maintained over the long term. This information will provide a level of certainty to licensees with respect to the timber supply impacts of stand-level habitat management for this species and will have the ultimate benefit of ensuring that a harvestable population of fishers occurs within this region. Project Objectives: This project addresses several primary objectives to further support sustainable fisher populations in the Peace River Region. These are: 1. Identify the characteristics of natal and maternal denning habitat to provide increased and appropriate protection under the Forest and Range Practices Act. 2. Describe and identify habitat relationships of fishers in this region to provide applicable and valuable information to land management planning processes and habitat supply analyses. 3. Provide extension reports and presentations to the forest, oil and gas, and trapping industries that help these groups manage fishers and fisher habitat in a sustainable manner.
Weir, Richard D., Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.; British Columbia Ministry of Environment. 2007. Fisher Ecology in the Kiskatinaw Plateau Ecosection: Inventory and Research. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2007MR311