Tolko Industries Ltd Fisher Habitat Evaluation in Mountain Pine Beetle affected areas

The conservation status of fisher changed from S2 to S2S3 indicating concern for the success of the species population. There is not an extensive amount of research or information on fishers and their habitats. This project monitors fishers and denning locations in the Sub-boreal Pine Spruce (SBPS) Biogeoclimatic Zone of British Columbia to better understand and assess prime habitats for species to reproduce and inhabit. Ten fisher (3 males and 7 females) were captured, implanted with radio transmitters, and monitored between Chantslar Lake and Chezacut. One male fisher was not successfully monitored. Researching and monitoring fishers between the 2005 and 2006 fiscal year show that majority of sites used by the species are in the Riparian Spruce (WR) Broad Ecosystem Unit (BEU) in mature stands. Collecting data on fisher habitats and denning ecology in the Chilcotin Plateau can help guide management and conservation plans. Ongoing study of fishers will provide information to develop a forest management plan to ensure protection of their habitat.

This project assesses fisher habitat ecology in the Sub-boreal Pine Spruce (SBPS) Biogeoclimatic Zone of British Columbia. Other research has not specifically assessed fisher habitat in pine dominated landscapes. Therefore, this research can provide a greater understanding of fisher ecology in British Columbia where pine trees grow. The goals of this study include identifying maternal denning habitats, describing fisher habitat in pine dominated regions, and providing management plans in these areas to address Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) affected areas.

Fishers rear their young in large cottonwood or balsam poplar habitats. In British Columbia, these tree species are scarce in certain regions. Identifying fisher denning habitat is a main priority in protecting their population. By having data on fisher denning behaviors and habitat use, management plans can be constructed and put into practice to protect fisher populations from human and natural disturbances. Forestry in British Columbia has the greatest potential to impact fisher habitat. Harvesting of trees and an increasing population of Mountain Pine Beetles have potential to negatively alter habitat that is essential for fisher reproduction and rearing. This study monitors fisher ecology and behavior to identify what habitats are most used for denning so a plan can be made to manage those locations for protection.


Between the 2005 and 2006 fiscal year after receiving certification, traps, radios and establishing project goals, fishers were captured and monitored. The three goals for this project was to capture and place implants in up to 12 fishers to track behavior and habitat range patterns with radio transmitters, use radio-telemetry so important habitats can be identified and recorded, and identify natal denning sites in SBPS.

An animal care certificate was obtained to conduct this research and licensed veterinarians were responsible for implanting radio transmitters. In order to capture fishers, Tomahawk Live Traps were placed and lined with bait. Traps were monitored daily and once captured, fishers were brought to licensed veterinary facilities so the Telonics IMP140L radio transmitter could be implanted. In order to identify fisher with the radio transmitter implant, patches of hair on their shoulders and neck were dyed blonde. The animals were returned to the same place they were captured once they recovered from the anesthesia. Implants occurred between December 2005 and March 2006. Once released, fishers were tracked by radio to monitor their location and habitat range.

The collection of data occurred between January and May 2006. Fisher natal denning occurs March through May and dens were located by tracking radio signals from adult females. Once dens were located, research could be conducted to study vegetation and habitat characteristics.

Data analysis will model and identify variables related to fisher habitat use. However, no data will be completed until another year of data collection between 2006 and 2007.

Results and Discussion

Between December 17th and February 22ndnine fisher were successfully trapped, implanted, and released. One male fisher escaped and radio signal was lost. There were 9 females and 2 males that were monitored through May. Because females have a smaller home range and remain in one den for at least five days, they were easier to track. Tracking showed that three of the females were denning in medium to large size dead topped pine and one female in a large Douglas-fir. Dens are in tree cavities 2m to 12m up the tree. One fisher sought shelter in a beaver house possibly for warmth. More monitoring and habitat observations will be assessed to identify fisher denning locations of the Chilcotin Plateau.


Results from the study between 2005 and 2006 cannot be completed until further study and analysis occurs in April 2007. By this time, more denning locations can be located and monitored. Once an estimated 30 locations per animal are reached, the research will be more statistically relevant to produce data. Monitoring will continue by radio and aerial surveys during summer and fall. Research of fisher habitat will be monitored during maternal care period (spring-early summer) 2007 to record more data for analysis. Once data is analyzed, a management plan can be written to protect fisher habitat.

Fisher Habitat in:

  • Source Larry R. Davis. April 2006. Tolko Industries Ltd Fisher Habitat Evaluation in Mountain Pine Beetle affected areas 2005/2006 Project Summary Report. Prepared by Davis Environmental Consulting, for Tolko Industries Ltd. Available at : [Accessed 03/2021].