Helena, MT -

Environmental groups are petitioning the federal government to enact endangered species protections for the Northern Rockies fisher.

The member of the weasel family lives in old-growth forests along the Montana and northern Idaho border and preys on porcupines, snowshoe hares and other animals.

Six groups filed the petition Monday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate the predator as an endangered or threatened species.

A similar petition was rejected in 2011 after federal wildlife officials determined trapping, logging and residential development did not appear to be hurting populations.

Tierra Curry of the Center for Biological Diversity says trapping has increased since then and new research has emerged on the fisher's habitat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to make an initial finding on the petition's merits.