New York Project
Fisher Harvest Modeling
June 2020 - May 2025
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Historically, fishers were distributed across New York, but the species was nearly extirpated by the 1930s as a result of unregulated trapping. Populations have since recovered in many areas, allowing for sustainable harvest opportunities in some parts of the state (e.g., parts of the Adirondacks and eastern New York). The DEC recently opened new areas to fisher harvest in central New York with a conservative trapping season as a result of occupancy work suggesting that the specific WMUs may be able to support a harvest season. The NYCFWRU assisted the DEC with design and implementation of new field surveys to make inferences about fisher distribution in New York that will be used to help inform management, including the potential for opening even more areas of the state to fisher harvest.
However, there is need to evaluate the effects of the conservative trapping season by comparing occupancy and density pre versus post trapping season regulation change. In addition to work in the central Adirondacks, fishers in the northern zone may be declining in several Adirondack Wildlife Management Units. It is possible that trapping harvest may have exceeded sustainable rates and may be additive to natural mortality. The NYCFWRU will evaluate harvest management scenarios on population growth (SUNY ESF is estimating demographic parameters to use in the model – kit production, survival) and evaluate harvest management scenarios that incorporate trapping season length, timing, bag limits, and the influence of food abundance on harvest vulnerability. This research will provide necessary decision-making guidance for sound harvest management that is based on population models and projections.