Your Stinky Socks for Conservation!
Fishers, rare weasels of the forest treetops, are hard to photograph and to study. A California scientist could use your socks in the effort! ICL also helps study fishers in Idaho, though we don't use socks.
That's right, California scientists need your socks to help find fishers (and we don't mean anglers!). Seeking pictures of the elusive treetop weasels, they bait hidden cameras with chicken stuffed into thick socks. While the fisher is chewing through the sock, the camera snaps away. The cameras have helped researchers find hidden dens and get amazing footage of fishers, bobcats, and everyone else that is interested in rotten chicken—watch baby fishers for a cuteness overload here!
Send your socks to SNAMP, 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst CA 93644. It's a good way to recycle your odd socks, but not the holey ones, since the idea is to make the fishers work for a while to get through them. The fisher team uses hundreds of socks per month, so you'll be saving them money, and you can brag to your friends about your California rare weasel research involvement.
Why so much interest in fishers? Longtime ICL member Roger Williams helped reintroduce fishers into Idaho in 1962 after it was thought that they'd disappeared from the state. At that time, we didn't know enough about fishers to determine whether they had been trapped out for their fur, or lost their old-growth forest habitat. We still don't understand the critters well, so ICL recently helped researcher Joel Sauder (pictured with fisher) get funding for his project to track fishers in Idaho forests.
Joel, working for Idaho Fish and Game and studying at the University of Idaho, tracks fishers as indicators of healthy forests. He live-traps them with a creative combination of skunk scent, beaver scent, and roadkill, and then puts radio collars on. Through his work, we'll learn where fishers spend most of their time and what kind of forest they need to survive.
ICL is involved in forest collaboratives throughout Idaho making decisions about forest management. Knowing the needs of the fisher and other rare forest animals helps us make decisions that will keep the forest supporting them into the future, so we never have to re-introduce them again!