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Pot Farms May Threaten Endangered Species

A species of weasel may be dying out because of poisons used in illegal pot farming.


For the fisher, marijuana could be gateway
to extinction. Photo via

By Ben Feuerherd


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Marijuana could spell dire trouble for you and your family, if you are a woods-dwelling fisher (a small predator in the weasel family). The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating whether the fisher may be in danger of extinction because of rat poison used on illegal pot farms in national parks and forests, and Indian reservations. A study found that 80% of dead fishers examined had the toxins in their systems, most likely from consuming poisoned rats. "We absolutely do have to evaluate the marijuana threat," says J. Scott Yaeger, a wildlife biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. "We need to make that link, or if the information can be discredited, we would do so in this evaluation. My gut feeling is, though, we are going to find a strong link." Biologists estimate there are only about 3,000 to 5,000 fishers remaining in California, Oregon and Washington, bringing them close to qualifying for an endangered species. The fisher may not be the only animal population at risk; an assessment by the Environmental Protection agency says the poisons have also been found in endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, owls, hawks, eagles, crows, squirrels, raccoons, and deer.

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