Fishers Out of the Wilderness
If that was true then, it’s not so much now. Three or four years ago an acquaintance who was the head of Bedford Audubon told me that someone who knew what he was talking about found fisher tracks in northern Westchester, which, despite some areas of intact habitat, is not quite an extensive wilderness. And for a few years there have been reports of a fisher in southeastern Connecticut.
The other day, Rae-Jean Davis, an animal control officer for the town of Stonington, caught one, the New London Day reported:
… a snarling, hissing fisher, which rushed the side of the cage when it saw her approach …
She said she was concerned the fisher would come out of the cage and bite her. She used a leash to open the front door of the cage while standing behind it. She said the slightly woozy animal then ran off into the woods off Chesebro Lane, just outside the borough.
Reports of fisher cats in southeastern Connecticut have increased in recent years. The state Department of Environmental Protection reintroduced fisher cats into northwestern Connecticut in 1989, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that fishers live in the woodlands of the proposed route for the extension of Route 11.
In 2005, residents of a Gales Ferry neighborhood were convinced that fishers were responsible for the disappearance of numerous cats, squirrels and ducks.
The fisher – Martes pennanti – is a weasel, bigger than a marten or a mink. The Audubon guide says the origin of its common name is unknown, but it adds, “If disturbed, it hunches its back like a cat and may hiss, snarl, growl, or spit,” which presumably accounts for why some people call it a fisher cat. If you’re wondering how tough it is, it likes to eat porcupines. It will also eat your house cat if it wants to.