Weasel-like fishers reintroduced in Olympic National Park

Weasel-like fishers reintroduced in Olympic National Park. AP. Seattle P-I.

Here is more. It’s from the National Park Service. Proposed Fisher Reintroduction.





  1. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Great news!

    I think the Park Service should re-introduce all species that are currently missing from the Parks where those species had traditional and historical populations.

    At least into places that can still sustain the populations. I remember the disastrous re-introduction of Red Wolves back into the Great Smoky Mts National Park. It was doomed from the beginning, which was a very unfortunate and sad thing to experience.

    But the Smokies have successfully brought back the river otter and elk.

    Re-introductions can be costly, though. The Park Service often chooses to use its monies in other ways, many times wastefully and not beneficial to wildlife.

    But that is the point of another article, I guess.

  2. Monty Avatar

    Question for Smokey Mtn Man: How are the elk doing in Smakoy MTn NP? The reason I ask is that the Smokey Mtn. are dense forests with little or no grasslands. Were they Roosevelt or Rocky Mtn elk? Thanks.

  3. Concerned Avatar

    Normally when elk are re-introduced they are Rocky Mtn Elk, due to higher population numbers, of course the Current population of “Roosevelt” elk are in Fact descended from Rocky Mtn Elk, most of my studies were done on the Roosevelt elk when I attended college in WA, many of my field studies were done on the elk of the Pacific NW, but the basic reason they are called Roosevelt, is due to the fact that Teddy, decided they needed to be restored to their former ranges in the Olympics, not because they was a major difference in their genetics..

  4. Concerned Avatar

    Just to add, the elk in the PNW is actually one of the first successful re-introduction efforts in the US, and this occurred at the first part of the last century, kind of setting a precedence for the current re-introduction programs.

  5. SmokyMtMan Avatar


    “The experimental release of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in February, 2001 with the importation of 25 elk from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, the park imported another 27animals.

    The organization primarily responsible was Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

    Most of the elk are located in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern section of the park.

    Elk may travel beyond the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in search of new territories. Most non-cropland adjacent to the park is designated as an elk buffer zone. If elk move onto these lands but do not come into conflict with private property, or the public, no action will be taken. If elk cause significant property damage or other conflict, the National Park Service will remove the animals.

    Lands outside the buffer zone are designated as no elk zones. Elk that wander into these areas will be removed by personnel from the National Park Service or state wildlife agencies.”


    “According to Park Wildlife Biologist Kim Delozier, “After 5 years the number of elk in the Park is still relatively small – only about 50 adult elk plus from 3 to possibly 7 calves born this season. Given that we originally released a total of 52 animals during the two releases in 2001 and 2002, the population is still small enough that a single event could eliminate them all.”


    I live on the border of the Park near the Cosby campground. I have not seen elk anywhere in the Park except for the Cataloochee Valley. Indeed, the majority of the Park consists of very dense forest and understory levels on rugged, rocky, and steep ground. There is a low amount of forage for the elk, but enough to sustain a small population.

    My understanding is that this is experimental to see what the acceptance rate of the elk is regarding the people that live near the Park. If the elk are assimilated and tolerated in the surrounding National Forests and cropland, then they will be allowed to expand from their current, small population.

    Too bad the Smokies cannot bring back the cougar, wood bison, fisher, marten, and red wolf to the ecosystem since they all had disappeared with the elk.

  6. Monty Avatar

    Thanks to all for the response, among all of the negative news, it’s good to read about a “small success”. Although I was born & raised in the west, I have visited Smokey Mtn. & fell in love with “it” due to the hardwood forests & the fact that this is one of the largest unfragmented parcels of land in the east (including both national forest & parks). It was sad to read that the red wolf re-introduction failed, if not here then where?. Thanks!

  7. Howard Avatar

    Great news indeed about the fishers! Here in PA, fishers were also reintroduced in between 1994 and 1998 and are doing incredibly well, having spread from from initial reintroduction in Sproul State Forest in Centre and Clinton counties northwest into the Alleghenies and as far east as the Poconos. Wild fisher populations have appeared in the Valley and Ridge country of southwest PA and are believed to be the progeny of fishers reintroduced to adjacent West Virginia. Fishers had been absent from PA for about 80 years…they weren’t severely persecuted, but the near complete loss of mature forest caused their extirpation. Today, many forests have become mature enough to support these predators again. PA has also reintroduced elk; the largest population in the East I believe, at about 800 with a state range of about 840 sq. miles.
    It would be great to have the bison back in parts of the East as well.
    Regarding red wolves, I too was saddened by the failure in GSMNP. Good red wolf habitat still exists in the East, but the biggest barrier to re-establishing the red wolf (aside from human politics) is genetic swamping by coyotes (what exactly eastern “coyotes” are is a whole discussion it itself, but it seems apparent that they carry coyote, red wolf, and gray wolf genes, in various combinations). Red wolves have been successfully reintroduced in North Carolina because the release site is actually a peninsula and coyotes are actively destroyed or sterilized as they come into red wolf territory from the mainland. Having said this, I believe that red wolves that have successfully packed and established territories kill coyotes. The Eastern wolves (which I believe is the same species as red wolf) in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario do show some introgression of coyote genes, BUT, there are no true coyotes (or eastern coyotes, which are differentiated from the Algonquin wolves) within the Park itself because the wolves actively exclude them. If the eastern/red wolf can be reintroduced to a mainland site, it may require trapping several entire established packs, as these animals are already excluding non-wolf canids from their territories.

  8. Chris H Avatar
    Chris H

    The first choice for reintroduction of red wolves was Land Between the Lakes. Unfortunately,U.S.F.&W.S. botched the public relations with the locals. Most of the local population are people who were “relocated” by the TVA when the Lakes were created. Another reason was that the humane society did not care for the way the coyotes would have been dealt with.
    It is still one of the best reintroduction sites in the east. There is no human population living on LBL. it has a good prey base (Rocky Mountain Elk from Utah and deer). It is both forested and open space (referred to as “barrens” here.) .Geographically it is a large peninsula surrounded by Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Actually, there are two red wolves there but they are in a place called the Nature Center which is a small zoo.

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Having grown up in western North Carolina, but not having been there for many years, I wonder whether the slow disappearance of the “bald” mountains is having an impact on the lack of growth of the elk herd in the Great Smokies?

    The balds were maintained by Natives through fire and were open grasslands that would have supported elk.

    This process went on for so long that some plants became dependent upon the frequent burns, but are now endangered or threatened because the burning has stopped.

    Can anyone answer this question about the status of balds?

  10. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    P. S. I was stationed at Fort Campbell for a year and spent a lot of time at Land Between the Lakes. I agree that it’s great wildlife habitat, albeit small in area.

    Historically, there was an iron-mongering factory in the area that supplied the Confederacy, and you used to be able to find huge heaps of blue slag.

    Before TVA, a great mistake by the way because much great farmland and wildlife habitat was inundated, so that people that were living relatively sustainably, albeit in “poverty,” were shoved aside in the name of progress and made truly poor, the area used to be called Land Between the Rivers; the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren wrote about it often.

  11. Monty Avatar

    Again, thanks for the info., I enjoy readings stuff like this & keep it coming. I have one example of a “natural reintroduction” that occurred in Big Bend National Park in Texas in the early 1980’s. The Black Bear of SW Texas was eradicated in the early 1900’s but in the 1980’s a female bear with three cubs was seen swimming across the Rio Grande River from Mexico & since that time the bear population has increased to about 25 to 30. There is still hope that the Jaguar may gain a “foothold” in this area.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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