YREKA, Calif. - A catlike creature that roams the timberlands of the West may be added to the federal endangered-species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office here is collecting population data on the fisher, which is about the size of a large house cat but is a member of the weasel family. The study pertains to fishers in California, Oregon and Washington, the agency announced.
The federal government asserts fishers, which occupy mixed conifer-hardwood forests, have declined in number because of various factors. Those include fur harvest, predator control, the loss of habitat from timber harvest and urbanization, the Fish and Wildlife Service contends.
The West Coast fisher has been a "candidate species" since 2004, but a proposal to list the species as threatened or endangered was precluded by higher priority actions, according to an agency news release.
The service is seeking information on the fisher's historical and current population status, threats to the species and its habitat, and scientific and commercial data to help with developing a potential critical habitat area, the release explains.
The agency's information-gathering period will run from March 19 to May 3. Comments may be submitted via email to FisherWestDPS@fws.gov or online at http://www.regulations.gov . Search for Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0054.
In addition, the public may submit information by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0054.; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.