OLYMPIA, Wash. — A state-led effort to return the weasel-like fishers to Washington’s North Cascades has been delayed because of the massive wildfires in British Columbia.

State wildlife officials have been using animals trapped in British Columbia to repopulate the forests of the Olympic and South Cascade mountains as part of a multi-year effort to return the native species to its historic range.

Wildfires over the summer scorched B.C. forests and damaged the fishers’ habitat.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Hannah Anderson says they want to make sure the fisher population in Canada remains robust and sustainable before moving ahead.

State officials and their partners had planned to relocating about 80 fishers to the North Cascades this winter. Now they’ll wait.

Nearly 160 of the housecat-sized animals have been set free in the Olympics and South Cascades over the years.