The fisher is a unique member of the weasel family and a sensitive species in the northern Rockies. Forest managers need information on fisher distribution and habitat needs to conserve this species while balancing multiple uses of forest lands and to maintain fisher populations under climate change.
Researchers from the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) matched DNA samples from fishers to habitat features at various scales and found that fishers require large trees and forests with a lot of cover and structure, all nested within a larger forested landscape. Models of fisher habitat in the future under a warming climate suggest that the amount of favorable area is likely to expand and move eastward into the Interior West, but it could become more fragmented. Now and in the future, fisher management will require retention and fostering of mature, complex, mesic forests with a high degree of habitat connectivity.