We agree that prey populations are of paramount importance for species of higher trophic levels. However, it is those higher-level species that are of most public, administrative, legal, and conservation concern. What we know of the ecology of these species leads to the supposition that they may respond negatively to the proposed management. Our study plan is designed to determine how they will respond; responses by prey populations will show up in the survival and reproduction of the predators. If the predators (e.g., fishers) do indeed respond positively to the treatments, we will know it.

We discuss the reason that we rejected a guild or biodiversity approach to addressing wildlife in the program. Based on modeling efforts, there is reason to think that more species may benefit from the treatments than will be negatively affected. However, those that may benefit are not the ones impeding forest management.

We are aware of and apologize for the very short time line allowed for the production of the draft work plan. We realize it is less than ideal.

We have not addressed the issue that the wildlife species selected for study in this project be “a valid indicator for the response of a wide variety of other species,” nor argued that any particular species can “Indicate” the ecological status or trend of others. The “indicator species” or “species guild” concepts are controversial and not of demonstrated utility. We selected species for inclusion in this project and prioritized them according to the criteria in the work plan. We do not claim that the results from the work as proposed can necessarily be generalized to other species.

We anticipate the ability to evaluate some of the landscape issues of fisher viability through monitoring dispersal from and detecting new individuals dispersing into the study area(s). Other insights will come from analyses of reproduction and mortality. However, a large-scale landscape or metapopulation analysis of the fisher population in the Sierra Nevada, as valuable as that would be, is beyond the scope of the proposed work.

We are aware of the current thought and evaluation of fisher reintroductions, and the issue regarding the viability of any proposed source population. If such a reintroduction program were to be adopted in the present project, it would be consistent with current standards and methodologies.

This post is a part of the following discussions: