SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Illegal marijuana farms may be to blame for the dwindling population of an elusive mammal many have never seen—the Pacific fisher.

Fishers are about the size of a large house cat.

“They look very similar to martens and minks,” Erin Williams with the U.S. Fish and Wildlifre Service said.

Williams said if you can’t picture them, there’s a reason—not a lot of people have seen them.

“You may have lived your whole life in some of these mountains and forests and you may never see a fisher,” she said.

Fishers, she said, are an important part of the forest ecosystem and have nearly disappeared in California, Washington and Oregon. In the early 1900s, they were trapped for their fur.

But the latest threat to the fishers is illegal marijuana farms; specifically, the poison used to protect the pot plants from rats, which fishers eat.

“It might not be one rat they ate that causes them to die from this poison but it builds up over time,” Williams said.

Williams says the U.S. Forest Service has just opened up a 90-day comment period that will allow the public some say on whether the Pacific fisher should be classified as a “threatened species.”

She said she hopes the discussion raises awareness not just about the plight of the fisher, but the overall health of our forests.


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