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There is a New Cat in Town: Watch Your Pets.

Fisher cats are tenacious hunters and thrive in heavily wooded areas. For those who have been missing their own cat, this may shed some light on the subject.

 

Carolee Mason reported that a woman had recently complained that her cat was missing. Mason said the woman brought in search dogs to find the cat, and the dogs followed the cat’s trail up a tree.  However,  it seemed the cat never came down.

Missing cats are almost always assumed to have become victims of coyotes,  but a call into the Connecticut Department of Environment and Energy (DEEP) proved there is a new cat in town, and it is not a cougar from South Dakota.

Chris Vann, DEEP wildlife biologist, specializing in nuisance wild life, said that there are fisher cats throughout the area.  While not widespread, heavily wooded areas are their favorite habitat. 

Fisher cats are neither aquatic nor cats. Relatives of the weasel family, they are approximately the size of large domestic cats, with the long, low, body type like a ferret. 

Vann said fishers are exceptional tree climbers and hunters. “Any cat is in great danger if there is a fisher cat around.  Anywhere a cat can go, the fisher can go.  We are concerned and do want to help people with fishers if they are having a problem,” Vann said.

Fisher cats have even been known to attack dogs.  Intensely territorial, Vann said they are tenacious fighters that even prey on porcupines.

The DEEP official said if fishers are becoming problem, such as breaking into a chicken coop or try to get into screened porch to go after a cat, they are easy to trap.  “Unless fishers are attacking and killing chickens, farmers have a little bit room to trap or have them removed. In my opinion, they are not as common as coyotes, and they are not considered abundant.”

They may not be abundant, but fishers can be ferocious.  

Paul Rego, another biologist with DEEP, said that it is possible that fishers would hunt cats, but said, “It is unlikely, I don’t believe it happens frequently.”  

Rego felt strongly that, “Coyotes are much more capable of killing cats in abundance. Twenty years ago fishers were quite rare.  Then there was a program to reintroduce the species in areas that were suitably habitable. Human activities wiped them out with deforestation and hunting, but they were a native species.”

Rego said that the reintroduction came about around the time when turkeys were reintroduced, and in some cases the fishers came down from New Hampshire and Vermont while hunting turkeys.  

“They are part of the whole eco system, and if you start eliminating species, one by one it becomes an unbalanced eco-system,” Rego said.   

Fisher usually dine on grey squirrels and other rodents, as well as fruits and berries. 

“They pose no danger to people,” Rego said. “They are shy with people.”

Rego suggested that owners supervise pets when they are out.  While he believes that there is more likely to be a problem with fishers at night, he is certain that coyotes pose a greater danger.  He advised, “If your pets go into the forest, they enter the eco-system, and they will be vulnerable.  However, you must remember, cats are also killing their share of their animals, and are responsible for the diminishing amounts of song birds.”

 

The photo of the fisher was found on wikipedia.  The article can be read here.

 

 


Tim Beeble June 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM
On March 19th in the Turkey Plain neighbohood, I heard a scream that I thought might be crows. I went out on the deck and looked up in the trees to locate the screamer. I glanced down into the valley, and about 200 feet below, I saw a red fox making the scream, like a woman being attacked. The fox trotted away but then, scanning the area with binoculars, I saw in that same area a brown animal balled up in a sapling that was bent over from the weight. I watched for quite a while wondering if it was dead, but also wondering what it was. Clearly from its coloring, it was not a raccoon, but it was treed by the fox. From its round ears, it looked like a monkey, but that wasn’t at all likely in Connecticut. A few minutes later, the brown animal jumped to the ground. I knew immediately from its form that it was a Fisher. A large one, 4 feet long; certainly a male, given that size. The Fisher started its way out of the valley in the opposite direction that the fox had departed. A couple minutes later, the fox returned to pursue the fisher. While the fox was healthy, it was no match for the fisher. Nevertheless, the fox stayed right behind the fisher, nipping at its tail all the way. I can only imagine that the fisher went too close to the fox den, and the "mom" was going to fend off the fisher regardless of the mismatch. We watched the fox and fisher for about 45 minutes. The fox screamed often, but the fisher made no noise at all, and did not even rear up at the fox.
Christine Rose (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 12:42 PM
That is so interesting. Everyone I have talked to said that fishers scream like women and have been in the area when they heard the noise and saw the fishers. I wonder if they are historic enemies. Thanks for that info!
Tim Beeble June 22, 2012 at 12:54 PM
The fisher showed no agression whatsoever. The fox scream is called a "vixen scream." Also, the fox is part of the feline family, not the canine family.
Gary Staib June 22, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I do not believe you are correct here. Foxes are part of canidae biological family which includes dogs, wolves, etc.
Lisa Kearney June 22, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Thank you for the heads up Tim. We now have been made aware of the presence of a Fisher in the Bethel area. A note aside, Gary is correct about the the fox and its biological family. He may possess all the cunning traits a cat has, but he definitely is a relative of the dog family.

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