By Andrew Butler
Dexter, a 14-year-old fisher cared for by Humboldt State University’s wildlife program, passed away in May. Three different reports from separate groups lend to three different pictures of the events leading up to the fisher’s passing.
Fishers, a species with the characteristics of an otter and the appearance of a feline, have an average lifespan of seven years. Fishers are officially listed as endangered, categorized under the title “least concern,” meaning they are barely on the endangered list. Dexter was brought to HSU in 2002, dropped off anonymously.
The passing may have gone unnoticed if not for a United States Department of Agriculture report citing a lack of communication between personnel assigned to the fisher and the veterinarian on site. A log going back a week before the death chronicled the deteriorating health of the fisher.
The log cited bald patches and the fisher not eating. The veterinarian, Rick Brown, was not notified until the fisher was found deceased in its box on May 2, possibly caused by “suffering, and/or poor medical outcome for the animal,” according to the USDA report.
The USDA report spurred the Center for Ethical Science based in Chicago to condemn the wildlife department at HSU, issuing a statement saying, “[HSU] violated the Animal Welfare Act by documenting a laboratory animal’s decline, allowing that animal to suffer for numerous days, but never contacting a veterinarian.”
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