View Full Version : Fisher Cats

10-10-2004, 21:44
Anyone like to share their knowledge/experience with these creatures? I thought I saw a post or two about them awhile back but can't seem to find it/them. I just visited a few friends in New Hampshire and they say they are real and they are bad a** little rascals. Sorta' like a cross between a tazmanian devil and a weezel?

Tramper Al
10-11-2004, 07:19
They are not cats, and they don't eat much fish, but they are really cool.

The only time I saw one on the AT was just after midnight, as we made our way between Lower and Upper Cold River Roads on the approach to Killington. I've run into them several other times in northern New England.

They are quite fearless, in New England mainly eat snowshoe hares, and are known as one of the few predators of porcupines.

Fisher (http://home.mcn.net/~wtu/fisher.html)

The Hog
10-11-2004, 07:24
Your friends were right. Fishers are extremely tough predators, but you are unlikely to see them unless you spend a lot of time in the north woods. Fisher cat is a popular name for them, but they are actually in the Mustelid, or weasel, family. I consider myself very fortunate to have seen fishers in the wild, and, in the winter, it is easy to find tracks of fisher near my home in northern Vermont. Once, I found a bunch of full body impressions in the snow where fishers had jumped out of a tree. They are adept at killing porcupines by delivering lightning fast bites to the head. They also have taken a bunch of my neighbors cats. Unless they're rabid, humans have nothing to fear - they'll run off at the sight of man.

10-11-2004, 09:01
Early on a misty morning, between Happy Hill Shelter and West Hartford, Vt. I got to see a fisher!

At the time, I did not know what it was. But, I was absolutely stunned at how this regal "cat-like" creature just slowly turned it's head and looked at me with very unfrightened and knowing eyes. It finally turned slowly away, and just sauntered off, not giving me a second thought. It was amazing, and I couldn't stop thinking about it until I finally found out what I'd seen!

Another great day on the trail!

walkin' wally
10-11-2004, 09:55
We have fishers in Maine. Their populations are increasing. I have seen a few while in the woods.
I will say that one I saw got up on it's hind legs like a squirrel and looked at me for about thirty seconds. I think it was trying to figure out what it was seeing.
I have seen two fisher kills of porcupines(after the fact). In both cases the skin was pulled off the porcupine and the carcass was mostly gone. (Like a raccoon porcupines can have quite a layer of fat between their skin and their muscles so I think it must be a somewhat easy job to remove the skin.) Quills were everywhere and in one case it looked like the porcupine was backed into a tight area between tree roots and dispatched there. I don't think the porcupine could maneuver. I don't think it would have made much difference anyway. I have heard of fishers being able to ingest quills and survive.I don't know if that is true. It is reported that quills can be in their droppings.
Fishers are creatures of habit and often travel the same routes or areas week after week. They are good tree climbers and swimmers. They can jump branch to branch.
They are indeed hard on house cats or other small animals in rural areas or near farms.
Most members of the weasel family are fierce fighters for their size This includes wolverines too, I think, along with mink,otter, ferrets, and marten.
Another name for the fisher is Pennance Cat. Maybe for their ability to sit on their hind legs like they are praying.

10-11-2004, 12:27
I didn't even know what they were until I saw one about a mile south of Hurd Brook Lean-to on my last day in the 100 mile wilderness. It was pretty aggressive and kind of charged towards me on the trail. I waited patiently until this critter climbed the nearby tree and scurried off. He kind of looked like an anorexic monkey cat or siamese. Devious little fellow. I ended up seeing another one the next day on my way up Katahdin. I'll try to post a picture soon.

10-11-2004, 13:27
I've seen 2 fisher behind my house in eastern Massachusetts. Their range has expanded in the last few decades. My old (c. 1960) field guide to mammals gives their range as Maine and northern NH and VT only.

10-11-2004, 15:23
In '01 heading from Greylock into Cheshire we saw the silhouette of a weasel looking like thing running accross the trail. Size of a large cat or small dog. Definitely a longer torso than either. Until today, I had no idea what we saw. Pretty cool!

01-19-2005, 08:56
Fisher Cats have made it down to CT. A friend keeps a bunch of animals (chickens, sheep, cows, pigs.. etc.) and has lost several chickens to fishers. I do wonder how far (and fast) they have moved south.

01-19-2005, 09:29
I've got them in my back woods, right on my property. One of my neighbors lost a cat to a fisher, I have three cats, I suspect I'll lose one at some time. They can get quite large when mature, and are REAL fast when they want to be. Check out Fisher website (http://home.mcn.net/~wtu/fisher.html) for more information.

01-19-2005, 11:07
I've seen 2 fisher behind my house in eastern Massachusetts. Their range has expanded in the last few decades. My old (c. 1960) field guide to mammals gives their range as Maine and northern NH and VT only.

And most of Canada, of course.

01-26-2005, 16:24
Fisher Cats have made it down to CT. A friend keeps a bunch of animals (chickens, sheep, cows, pigs.. etc.) and has lost several chickens to fishers. I do wonder how far (and fast) they have moved south.

My buddy owns a house in the NW corner of Rhode Island within a few minutes of the CT line. Anyway, he sees fishercats every so often on his property. This area of the state is one of the few pockets of rural lands left in RI for what it is worth.

As a side note, it was my first visit back home in two years and I get caught in a blizzard! :)

Lone Wolf
01-26-2005, 16:26
I'm headin to RI in 2 weeks too for a visit.

01-26-2005, 19:41
Over the summer I was at a tenting site along the AT at little rock pond in Vermont and the caretaker told me that fisher cats will chase porcupines high up onto a tree until they fall. A porcupine near the pond died that way.

Jack Tarlin
01-26-2005, 19:54
We've seen them several times on the bank of Mink Brook which goes thru the property I live on (The A.T. crosses Mink Brook several miles north of Hanover, so keep your eyes peeled; maybe you'll get lucky!).

The stories of their ferocity are no joke; I've heard from several folks who live farther out of town in more heavily forested areas who've seen them frequently, and on occasion, have had them eat their cats.

The fisher, incidentally, is considered to be one of the (if not the only, along with Wolverines perhaps) common predator of the porcupine. The fisher has two methods: Being a good climber, he'll attack the porky while coming DOWN a tree; the fisher will go after the porcupine's unprotected face and essentially chew it up til the porky succumbs. Also, fishers have figured out that the porky's belly is also quill-free; the fisher will sneak up from behind, flip the porky over, and scoop out its belly like it was a cantaloupe.

I've heard of several folks who've encountered fishers on the Trail; I never have, tho the backyard is .4 from the Trailhead, so I guess that's pretty close. You probably have a better chance of seeing one in Maine, as they're more common as you go further North.

TJ aka Teej
01-26-2005, 22:38
Pine Martens are much more common than Fishers, and are probably the animal most people are seeing. The critters running about at the Birches and Katahdin Stream Campground are Martens.

Fisher: http://pws.prserv.net/rindge/fisher.html

Pine Marten: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/factsheets/mammals/marten.htm

01-26-2005, 23:19
After checking the two links that TJ aka Teej posted I know for sure what I saw was a Fisher! Thanks for the links!

01-27-2005, 22:48
It was the winter I spent in a cabin in NE Minnesota, about 30 miles from the Canadian border. I made friends with a neighbor of mine there who supported himself and his family by trapping furbearing animals, and occasionally accompanied him when he checked his traps. One time I went along he had a fisher in a wire snare. It was dead, having frozen to death due to being trapped outside shelter all night in seriously subzero temps.

This thing had claws like a house cat, but sturdier, with greater claw width, if not thickness. The obvious strength contained in its sinewy legs was daunting; I can easily visualize one chasing off a bobcat, if it got first swing. A normal house cat would instantly be toast if it tangled with one of these creatures.

05-01-2005, 21:23
It's highly unlikely to see a fisher cat on the AT. Most people go their whole lives without seeing one (even residents of VT, NH and ME), so consider yourself lucky if you do.

On a side note, the fisher seems to be gaining in popularity.. the New Hampshire minor league baseball team recently renamed themselved the Fisher Cats.. (much better than the Granite State Mountain Men, which was the alternative). And it makes for a pretty cool logo..


05-08-2005, 12:04
I have only seen a few in my 60 years living in Maine but they are very common. There is nothing a blood curdeling as the scream of a rabbit or cat caught by a fisher. I frequently hear it at night as several fishers live in my neighaborhood. They are very shy and not often spotted. They love to hunt at night and den up during the day. One year we lost a cat so my son and I located the fisher den and placed a leghold trap in the entrance. That night we had a foot of snow and it was weeks before we got back to the trap. All we found was skellital remains in the trap whick leads me to believe that we caught one fisher and then another fisher concumed him. Several years ago a Winthrop Maine police officer was bitten by a Fisher that was trapped under his cruser and was just trying to escape and the cop was in his way. Unless a fisher is cornered you will never see him and they are shy and will escape at first sign of a human.

05-08-2005, 14:34

05-08-2005, 17:38
Saw a fisher yesterday on my property in eastern MA. While I watched from an upstairs window, it ran 40 yards across ground and then went straight up a white pine. That was the fastest I'd ever seen anything climb a tree. Went 40 feet up in maybe 20 seconds.