Wildlife Genetics
Contact Information

Genetics Team Leader
Rocky Mountain Research Station
800 E. Beckwith Ave.
Missoula, MT 59801

Wildlife Genetics Laboratory

Black and White Photo of a Fisher

Determining Fisher Distribution in the Rocky Mountains

Problem Statement

The USFWS has established that fisher in the Pacific Coast States are “warranted, but precluded” from listing under the Endangered Species Act (2004). In the Rocky Mountains fisher habitat may be more contiguous than in the Pacific Coast States, but the presence / absence of fisher on forest lands and their level of connectivity to other fisher populations remains largely unknown. We are currently working with multiple agencies and organizations to detect fisher in the Rocky Mountains.


This work has a primary objective and two secondary objectives. They are:

  1. To delineate the geographic range of fisher in the Rocky Mountains. Specifically we are interested in detecting all the populations, and determining these populations’ boundaries.
  2. To determine which Rocky Mountain fisher populations have native genes and which fisher populations are comprised of reintroduced individuals.
  3. To index the abundance of fisher (e.g., minimum number of individuals alive) in each population through the use of DNA.

Survey Protocol

To meet these goals have established a standardized survey. A draft of this survey can be downloaded below. The accompanying grid and GIS layers can also be downloaded.

Fisher Survey Protocol.pdf (pdf)

GIS Layers

are available here

Fisher article in Horizon Air Magazine

Posted and reprinted from the July 2006 issue of Horizon Air Magazine with the written permission of the publisher, Paradigm Communicatons Group, Seattle, WA, Copyright 2006. All rights reserved by the publisher. No print out, Web posting, duplication or distribution by any means, manual or electronic, may be done without the express written permission of the publisher.


This project is a partnership between Forest Service Research (Rocky Mountain Research Station, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Pacific Southwest Research Station), Coeur D’Alaine Tribes, Potlach Timber Company, Forest Capital Partners, The Northern Region (Region 1 of the US Forest Service), Clearwater and Panhandle National Forests, University of Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game, Great Burn Study Group, and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.