Fishers — fuzzy, cat-size mammals that are cuter relatives of weasels — are under attack. The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed moving the adorable critters onto the threatened-species list because of increased dangers to them from rat poison in California — rat poison that’s used to grow pot.
There are about 4,000 fishers living in the state, survivors of the fur-trapping fervor of the last two centuries. But, according to the FWS, they’re not doing too well:
Currently, West Coast populations of fishers are relatively isolated leaving them especially vulnerable to unpredictable events such as wildfires and the relatively recent threat of rodenticide use at illegal marijuana growing operations. Rodenticide use has been verified at illegal marijuana cultivation sites within occupied fisher habitat on public, private and tribal lands in California. To date, published research indicates that of the 58 fisher carcasses analyzed for the toxin associated with anti-coagulant rodenticides, 79 percent tested positive in California, and 75 percent tested positive in Washington.
Adding fishers to the threatened-species list would give them more protections and make it illegal to harm or trap them along the West Coast.
A lot of rodenticide use happens in so-called “trespass grows,” where people illegally farm marijuana on land that’s not their own. “Illegal grows divert streams, use tremendous amounts of water and energy, apply unregulated or banned rodenticides, and, in some cases, pose safety risks to researchers like Mourad Gabriel, who led the rat-poison study cited by FWS,” writes Mother Jones’s Julia Lurie about the practice’s other ills.
Makes you think twice about lighting up tonight, eh? Or, an easier solution: Legalize it. Regulate it. Save fishers.