“Environmental and anthropogenic variables influencing fisher den attendance patterns”, Caylen Cummings, Humboldt State University graduate student – awarded $1,000.
The fisher (Pekania pennanti) is a forest carnivore in the weasel family that depends on cavities in live trees and snags to birth and rear their offspring. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that west coast fisher populations be listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to significant population declines and range contractions over the past century. Caylen Cummins, a graduate student at Humboldt State University, conducted a research project with the aim of describing “the environmental variables that influence den attendance patterns of fishers to determine if timber harvest and related activities alter those patterns.” Cummins captured approximately 20 female fishers of reproductive age in both the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation and private timberland, fitted them with radio collars, and observed their denning behavior, especially as it related to timber practices. If timber harvest-related activities were found to influence denning behavior negatively, provisions in accordance with the U.S. Endangered Species Act could be incorporated into Forest Management Plans.