Fishers are members of the weasel family with an historical range across old growth forests of New England, Appalachia, Great Lakes region, Rockies, and Pacific Coast mountains. Over-trapping and habitat fragmentation from the 1700s - mid 1900s have limited them to concentrations in New England, eastern Canada, northern Appalachia, and Great Lakes region. Smaller populations and re-introductions are finding success in parts of Montana, the Sierras, and coastal Oregon and Washington.
Physical Traits: Fishers can reach 3' long including a 12-15" tail. Males average 12 lbs, and females 8 lbs. They live 6-8 years in the wild. Fishers have a long, slender body with flexible backs, short legs, retractable claws, rounded ears and a bushy tail. They're particularly agile in thick brush and are excellent climbers. Fishers are structurally similar to martens but are larger, generally darker, and have thicker fur.
Diet: While fishers primarily eat hare, rabbit, rodents and birds, they're best known for hunting porcupines. Fishers bite and claw at the porcupine's face, causing it to bleed to death. Despite their name, fishers seldom eat fish. Behavior Fishers are nocturnal, solitary animals that roam large swaths of mixed coniferous forests. They communicate with others through scent marking. Fishers are dependent upon mature forests with large snags and deadfall for denning. Like their wolverine cousin, fishers have high metabolisms and will travel many miles in search of prey. Because fishers are nocturnal and seldom venture into open space during the day, little is known about this elusive carnivore.
Territory size estimates vary, though most observers agree it's at least 4-8 square miles. Fishers are distinguished by their zig-zagging movements through heavy brush and ability to climb trees. Fishers are quick but not fast enough to chase prey; instead they rely on patience and surprise.
Reproduction: Fisher mating season occurs in April, but like all mustelids (weasels), delay egg implantation until February or March the following year. 1-4 kits are born the following April after a 30 day gestation period. Why is implantation delayed? By delaying implantation to the following year, mothers are not overburdened with mating, gestating, birthing and weaning during the vital but relatively short summer months of their northern latitude habitats. Delaying the process enables a mother to recover from resource-strapped winters, and give birth at an optimal time at the onset of summer. Females may breed as soon as 7-10 days after giving birth. Kits remain with the mother for about 6 months before leaving to establish their own territories.