Moment Weasels Are Released Into Olympic National Park In Washington State Where They Went Extinct
This is the moment forest dwellers called fishers which are part of the weasel family are released into the Olympic National Park in the US state of Washington where they once went extinct.
The footage shows some of the fishers (Pekania pennanti) being released into the wild. They can be seen being let out of boxes made of wood and containing what appears to be hay before bounding off into the forest.
The footage was shared online by the Olympic National Park Service, who said: “Some very welcome newcomers arrived at Ozette last week…!”
Lake Ozette is the largest natural lake in the state of Washington and it is located in the west of the state, near the Pacific coast.
The National Park Service (NPS) explained that they released five fishers and that they were from the province of Alberta in Canada, saying that the event was the latest in a “nearly two decades-long project to restore the native species to Washington State.”
They added that fishers are members of “the mustelid or weasel family” and that they are “roughly the size of a housecat”.
They feed “on rodents, hares and even porcupines”. The NPS said that they were completely eradicated from the state of Washington “by the 1930s due to over-trapping, poisoning and fragmentation of their forest habitat.”
They also said that this latest release was part of a partnership led by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the National Park Service (NPS), the US Geological Survey (USGS), and Conservation Northwest “to restore the elusive carnivores to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Mountains.”
They said that a total of “90 fishers were captured in northern British Columbia and reintroduced to Olympic National Park and surrounding areas on the Olympic National Forest from 2008 through 2010.”
Fishers caught in British Columbia, and later Alberta, were subsequently “reintroduced to Washington’s South Cascade Mountains in and around Mount Rainier National Park beginning in 2015, and to North Cascades National Park and nearby areas beginning in 2018.”
Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said: “Watching fishers return to the forests of the Olympic Peninsula is truly inspiring.”
The NPS also said that “while the Washington Fisher Reintroduction Project met its goal in early 2020, releasing more than 250 total fishers across the Olympic and Cascade ranges with successful reproduction documented in both areas, project partners saw an opportunity this year to boost the numbers and genetic diversity of fishers on the Olympic Peninsula using animals live-trapped in Alberta.”
They said that about 20 fishers are set to be released at locations around the Olympic National Park and the Olympic National Forest this month and in December, “including the first five near Lake Ozette last week.”
They explained that they chose the Ozette area “due to the ongoing partnership with the Makah Tribe since 2008 and the Makah Tribe’s continued research on the fisher population in the Ozette to Neah Bay region.” The Makah called Lake Ozette ‘Kahouk’, which means”large lake.”