Fishers (Martes pennanti) were purportedly extirpated from Montana by 1930 and extant populations are assumed to be descended from translocated fishers. To determine the lineage of fisher populations, we sequenced 2 regions of the mitochondrial DNA genome from 207 tissue samples from British Columbia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Montana. In northwestern Montana, fishers share haplotypes with samples from the upper Midwest and British Columbia; in west-central Montana, we detected haplotypes found in British Columbia samples, but also detected a control region and cytochrome-b haplotype not found in source populations. Based on the unique haplotypes found in west-central Montana, we propose that individuals with these haplotypes are descended from a relic population. Fishers in northwestern Montana are likely descended from fishers from the Midwest and British Columbia.
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