Lawsuit filed over denial of endangered species protection to West Coast fishermen

By Chronicle staff

The Center for Biological Diversity and two other environmental groups filed a lawsuit on September 13 against the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) after it denied endangered species protection status to West Coast fishermen.

The other two agencies involved in filing the lawsuit are the Environmental Protection Information Center and the Klamath Siskiyou Wildland Center. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of California.

Hunters are medium-sized carnivores in the forests whose habitat extends throughout much of the West Coast. Logging and fur hunting drastically reduced poachers by the 1950s, and they now face threats from rodenticides used by cannabis growers and climate change issues including an increase in wildfires, according to environmental groups.

The remaining hunter numbers are now limited to northern California and southern Oregon while additional groups have been relocated to the southern Oregon Cascades and Washington.

“I am very concerned about the survival of the mystery hunter and the ancient forests they call home,” Noah Greenwald, director of the Center for Endangered Species Biodiversity, said in a press release. “These stubborn animals can eat porcupines, but they cannot stand the damage we are doing to their forests. Poachers needed ESA protection 20 years ago, and they need it even more today.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal actions dating back to 2000 when the Center for Biological Diversity submitted its first petition to the FWS to list West Coast Fishers as threatened in various Pacific Northwest habitats.

The trigger for this lawsuit was a 2020 decision by the FWS that removed protections for fishermen on the entire West Coast except for the southern Sierra Nevada region.

“Hunters are cruel. From poisoning by rodenticides, to habitat loss from logging and fires, these tenacious creatures face significant threats to their continued existence,” George Sexton, director of conservation for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, said in a press release.

The full lawsuit can be viewed online at https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/fisher/pdfs/West-Coast-Fisher-Complaint-2022-09-13.pdf

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