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Environmental groups warn of lawsuit to protect fisher

Environmental groups warn of lawsuit to protect fisher

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MISSOULA -- A coalition of environmental groups warned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it plans to sue over the agency’s decision not to protect the fisher under the Endangered Species Act.

“Fisher in Montana are being decimated by trapping and logging,” said Arlene Montgomery of Friends of the Wild Swan, one of the five groups suing the government. “While the Fish and Wildlife Service delays protection, the Northern Rockies fisher faces imminent threats to its survival.”

The groups initially asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to give the fisher protection in 2009. The agency ruled there wasn’t enough information on what kind of habitat the fur-bearing carnivore needed in the northern Rocky Mountains. The groups appealed again in September 2103, and the agency had one year to respond. That deadline was reached this September.

By law, the groups must file a notice of intent to sue before they can file their lawsuit. The coalition includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Bitterroot, Friends of the Clearwater and Western Watersheds Project.

Fishers can be legally trapped in Montana and several other states. The species used to range across northeastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, northwest Wyoming and north-central Utah. Its habitat has been greatly reduced by logging in old-growth timber, while trapping has also taken a toll.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials were not available for comment when this story was written. 

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