Threatened species latest collateral victim of marijuana prohibition

Jul 19, 2012 , , , ,

Meet the fisher:

This is what a fisher looks like

Cute, huh?

Fishers are native forest carnivores that populate, among other areas, parts of California, Oregon, and Washington State. Unfortunately, the fisher has been listed as a candidate species for the endangered species program. Even more unfortunate is the fact that our country’s marijuana prohibition is killing these little guys off in new and unforeseen ways.

According to researchers led by veterinary scientists from the University of California at Davis, illicit marijuana grows are inadvertently killing off large numbers of these rare animals. The theory goes that in order to protect their irrigation lines and crops from nibbling rats, growers sprinkle rodenticide directly on their lines and around their crops. The rodenticide – which can be lethal after a single ingestion – takes up to seven days before signs of ingestion occur. Within those seven days, the fishers eat the rats who have been poisoned, thus exposing themselves to the poison as well.

Researchers also theorize that the fishers may be eating the poison directly, attracted to the cheese, peanut butter, and bacon flavorizers added to the poison. Of the 58 fisher carcasses analyzed by the researchers, rodenticide was found in 79% of them. In addition, the deaths occurred between mid-April to mid-May, when immature marijuana plants would be most vulnerable to pests and thus most in need of a rodenticide to ensure against that threat. While the fisher is the focus of the study, the researchers made sure to point out that “martens, spotted owls, and Sierra Nevada red foxes may be at risk from the poison, as well.”

Consider for a moment one consequence of the marijuana prohibition and how it makes life difficult, or impossible, for the fisher. It is painfully clear that Americans like to use marijuana recreationally, and where there is demand, there is supply. Currently, most marijuana grows are illicit, and thus growers seek the deepest and darkest recesses of our natural habitat, frequently growing on public lands and in our state parks. Unregulated growers have no incentive to protect against the environmental damage that an agricultural operation causes, such as secondary deaths of protected animals due to rodenticides.

Now it’s time to consider the effect of a legal marijuana agricultural operation on the wildlife around it. Like other agricultural operations, marijuana grows would be regulated and, more importantly, inspected. Environmental regulations would limit when and what types of pesticides could be used. Additionally, grows would be moved out of the remote areas where they are currently cultivated and where wildlife thrives; we don’t see illicit vineyards crop up on remote public lands for a reason. Finally, financial penalties would be placed on growers who violate environmental regulations and inspections would make sure the regulations are being followed. A well-regulated and inspected system of marijuana cultivation would ensure that the industry is environmentally friendly (or at least not environmentally destructive).

It’s well past time we stop criminalizing otherwise law abiding marijuana users, stop wasting billions in tax payer money funding a prohibition that has never worked, stop foregoing billions of estimated tax revenue, and stop fostering a niche agricultural industry free from any environmental rules and regulations. It’s well past time we tax and regulate the marijuana industry.

9 responses to “Threatened species latest collateral victim of marijuana prohibition”

  1. So besides this being an endangered species, this will affect rodents as well.

    There will be less of these little guys to kill off the rodents which mean more rodenticide going into pot and people will be casualties.

    So then rats can become such a problem to other crops we eat

  2. Fishers are not only nt an endangered species they are an invasive species imported from Europe in the 1800s to control the procipine population. They are all over New England and will devastate any ecosystem they move into. They are as wanton killers and varoacious as humans are on an ecosystem. They will kill and eat anything that moves on the ground. They will burrow under the ground and clear out all dens. They will swim through and under the water and kill all the water life. They will climb trees and clear an area of birds. In the end there will be nothing left but the Fisher and a few big game animals. Then and only then will the fisher move on. They are also notorious for killing and eating pets. Cats are a favorite. I have seen this upclose and first hand in several places I have lived in rural New England. The Fisher is a phenomenal species. Very fierce, intelligent, resourcful. But it is an invasive disruptive species. It was imported because it has the uncanny ability to flip a Porcipine and kill it and eat it without getting hurt. I have personally encountered them a few times and they are very impressive animals. But they do not belong here.

  3. ^ Calling something an invasive species does not automatically categorize it as a danger. Some species that have been introduced here have harmonized with the environment over the course of many generations, being re-classified as “established species”. Other introduced species like the cane toad in Australia continue to wreak havoc and need to be exterminated before they destroy everything.

    If rat poison is killing the Fisher then it is surely killing other creatures of the forest, as well as contaminating the very eco-system that the pot is growing in. I swear, humans don’t really think things through sometimes. I guess that’s what happens when profit is on the line.

    The government needs to unban this plant already. The time is woefully overdue.

  4. There is evidence that ancestors of the fisher migrated to North America during the Pliocene era between 2.5 and 5 million years ago. Two extinct mustelids M. palaeosinensis and M. anderssoni have been found in eastern Asia. The first true fisher, M. divuliana, has been found only in North America. There are strong indications that M. divuliana is related to the Asian finds, which suggests a migration. M. Pennanti has been found as early as the Late Pleistocene era about 125,000 years ago. There are no major differences between the Pleistocene fisher and the modern fisher. Fossil evidence indicates that the fisher’s range extended farther south than it does today.[3]
    Three subspecies were identified by Goldman in 1935, M.p. columbiana, M.p. pacifica, and M.p. pennanti. Later research has debated whether these subspecies could be positively identified. In 1959, E.M. Hagmeier concluded that the subspecies are not separable based on either fur or skull characteristics. Although some debate still exists, in general it is recognized that the fisher is a monotypic genus with no extant subspecies.[9]

  5. WOW…The More You Know !!! For this picture to come clear, you have to read the article and ALL the comments. I’m a cat, so I have vote “let the damn things extinct on out the door”. Somehow, if they are all that tenacious, I don’t think they’ll go anywhere. God knows the rats thrive on, no matter what. Now… is this Fisher a weak species that needs protection, or are they like humans and rats (no offense) ? Also, these poisons end up in our water supply just sooner or later. Perhaps the answer to that is (I hate to say it) govt. regulation of these poisons, maybe EPA. The way they do with other extreme environmental threats. That’s my 2 cents, Thanx for listening.

  6. Really? Is this the last thing MPP is going to talk about? I have been cluicking over here every day for over a week. Both NORML and Toke of the Town have already had several articles of information posted since then. C’mon, MPP. Give us something new.

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