The Fisher

The American Fisher (Martes pennanti) is a common member of the mustelid family found throughout the north. The fisher is a medium-sized animal, about the size of a cat with dark reddish to black coat, and a very bushy tail. Like most mustelids, the fisher has a long, narrow body, with short legs and large feet. This aids the animal in burrowing, climbing trees, and walking on a snow pack.

Photo from hackettstownlife.com

The fisher is “dimorphic,” meaning that the male is much larger than the female. Fishers range in size from 2 to 15 pounds. They spend a lot of time in trees, and are considered to be mostly “arboreal” as a result. Fishers are opportunistic feeders, and will eat rabbit, squirrels, mice, porcupine, carrion, berries, ferns, and mushrooms. Despite its name, the fisher rarely enters the water or eats fish or other aquatic animals.

The fisher once ranged throughout the Appalachians down to North Carolina, but they were hunted and trapped to extinction in the southern part of their range in the 1800’s, prized for their fur. During 1969, the State of West Virginia released some fishers into the wild, and they reproduced, spreading into sections of Garrett County, MD and Pennsylvania. Fishers require large sections of forest for habitat, and they are especially partial to evergreen stands.

Some Frederick County residents report fisher sightings on their property. Case in point, Dave Prokopchak from the Dickerson area in Frederick County submitted this photo of an animal he thinks is a fisher. Dave watched the animal saunter around on his property, climb a couple trees, then head back into the woods. According to Dave, the animal was in no hurry, enjoying a rare rain free day in early March, 2019.

Photo by Dave Prokopchak

Article by FCFCDB member