Monday, August 11, 2014

PA Wildlife: Fishers

Three Fishers
 What was that? I saw something similar to a cat up ahead when I walked up our neighbor’s road. Highlighted against the pale road, the animal looked black. Since I am very familiar with cats, I wondered about this creature’s humplike back and different gait. I asked several people. Finally, someone suggested a fisher. What? I had never heard of such a thing. I began to investigate.

From a children’s book, Follow a Fisher by Laurence Pringle, I’ve learned some interesting facts. The fisher is part of the weasel family. Most females weigh three to seven pounds. Males are almost twice as large. Average length from nose to the end of their long tail is the same as a yard stick. All fishers are covered with brown and black hair but females tend to be darker. Each of their four feet has five toes with long toe nails.

The most astonishing to me is the amount of time a female carries her young inside her body---about a whole year. What a long time to be pregnant! She also is still caring for her last litter of young while pregnant with the next and all by herself. Yes, the male doesn’t help.

They hunt mostly at night for small animals but also eat carrion, nuts, and berries. The most unusual food they consume is porcupine, an animal only tackled by two others, the bobcat and cougar. In fact, fishers have been introduced into areas that are overpopulated with porcupine to help control the numbers.

On the Pennsylvania Game Commission site, I found that fishers had almost died out in Pennsylvania but in the 1990s they brought them back by introducing 190 in the northern tier. The Game Commission believes that some also migrated from a re-introduced colony in West Virginia. One biologist, Dr. Matt Lovallo, believes that there are thousands now in Pennsylvania.


  1. Very, very interesting, Sandy. I had no idea fishers were in this state. We don't see fishers

  2. Thank you for sharing. I've never heard of them before.