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Rat Poison From Illegal Marijuana Grow Sites Killing ‘Fisher Cats’

Aired 7/20/12 on KPBS News.

A UC Davis study finds that rat poison from illegal marijuana farms on California public lands may be killing fishers, a struggling species in the weasel family.

A UC Davis study suggests that rat poison used on illegal marijuana farms on California public lands may be killing fishers, a stressed species in the weasel family.

Fishers are a candidate for the endangered species list. They live in remote, forested areas. In California there are isolated fisher populations in the southern Sierra, Yosemite forests, and northern California forests.

Ecologist Mourad Gabriel said his research team found that nearly eighty percent of the fisher carcasses they tested had been exposed to rat poison.

"We would have never suspected a species that lives in such a remote forest of our public lands to be exposed to these toxicants," said Gabriel.

Because the scientists monitor the fishers, they determined they were traveling near illegal marijuana farms, which law enforcement dismantled.

Gabriel said even low levels of rat poison could harm fishers by making them tired and slowing their reaction time-- which makes them vulnerable to predators.

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