Letter to the Editor: Where have all the fishers gone?
Published in the Concord Monitor
Dec 1, 2018
The season for trapping fishers begins today and continues until Dec. 31.. Hunters can shoot fishers from today through the end of January.
Fishers have never had it easy in New Hampshire. The value of their fur has driven them to such scarcity in New Hampshire that on several occasions their season has been closed.
Over the last two decades there has again been a steady decline in the number of fishers trapped. In fact, the number of fishers trapped has declined from about 1,200 fishers in 1997 to only 44 fishers in 2017, a decrease of 96 percent.
Will N.H. fishers soon join other N.H. furbearing predators who have been hunted to extinction (mountain lion and Eastern wolf) or trapped to such scarcity that they no longer have an open season (lynx, marten and bobcat)? Probably. And the red and gray fox, whose populations have decreased over 60 percent in the last two decades, according to Fish and Game trapping records, may soon join those species in their scarcity.
Who is responsible? N.H. trappers, the Fish and Game Commission and the Fish and Game Department are all complicit. The trappers, who insist on carrying on a “tradition” even if the consequences are essentially eliminating a valuable component of N.H.’s ecosystem; the commission, which chooses pleasing its trapper constituency over science and its public trust responsibility; the department, for not insisting upon more science-based management of these wildlife populations. Lastly, N.H. residents who willfully ignore the plunder of their public trust resources, bear responsibility.
What will happen to ecosystem integrity and biodiversity when the vast majority of furbearing predators are removed from the N.H. landscape? Science has long had the answer to this question. Unfortunately, it appears no one in New Hampshire is willing to listen.