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Thread: Fisher Cats

  1. #1
    with a case of blind faith
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    Default Fisher Cats

    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?

  2. #2
    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Default Fishers

    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
    - Tramper Al

  3. #3

    Default natural born killers

    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.

  4. #4
    ME-GA 2000 NotYet's Avatar
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    Default

    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!

  5. #5
    Registered User walkin' wally's Avatar
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    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.

  6. #6
    Registered User A-Train's Avatar
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    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.
    Anything's within walking distance if you've got the time.
    GA-ME 03, LT 04/06, PCT 07'

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    Section Hiker 350 miles DebW's Avatar
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    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.

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    Thru-Hiker Grimace's Avatar
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    Default I thnk we saw one too

    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!
    Grimace ME->GA '01
    JMT '03

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    2006 Thru-hiker in planning dje97001's Avatar
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    Default we have them in CT

    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.

  10. #10

    Default Fisher info and pictures

    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 for more information.
    Andrew "Iceman" Priestley
    AT'95, GA>ME

    Non nobis Domine, non nobis sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam
    Not for us O Lord, not for us but in Your Name is the Glory

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DebW
    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.

  12. #12
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Default In RI too

    Quote Originally Posted by dje97001
    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!

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    I'm headin to RI in 2 weeks too for a visit.

  14. #14
    Registered User fuzz's Avatar
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    Default trees

    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.

  15. #15

    Default

    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.

  16. #16

    Default

    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/...als/marten.htm
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  17. #17
    ME-GA 2000 NotYet's Avatar
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    Default

    After checking the two links that TJ aka Teej posted I know for sure what I saw was a Fisher! Thanks for the links!

  18. #18

    Default I've seen a fisher in the wild...

    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.

  19. #19
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    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..

    http://www.nhfishercats.com/

  20. #20

    Post Fishers

    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.

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