Monday, January 14, 2013

Tracking A Fisher

Tracking a Fisher isn't something I was able to do when I was young.  These wild creatures weren't around Pennsylvania at that time.   
Fisher tracks in snow
 Fishers were expatriated here in Pennsylvania over one hundred years ago, but they were reintroduced in the mid 1990's.  We are pleased that the Fishers are re-established.  When we found these Fisher tracks in the snow, it's no wonder that we followed them for awhile through this rugged, wild country.  We tracked the Fisher along some rock ledges near a ridgetop that is forested with a mixed conifer/deciduous forest. 
   There were porcupine dens in some of the rock crevices.  We were hoping to find evidence that the Fisher was successful in hunting the porcupines.  Unfortunately, we didn't see the Fisher or any sign that it had a successful hunt.
 We did, however, find some Fisher tracks in the sand under a rock ledge.  Exclamation point.
Fisher paw print
The Fisher's footprint in this photo is about 2 1/2 inches across.  This is a front paw print.  Note the five distinct toe/claw marks.
 In the next photo my son is pointing to the Fisher's paw print that was under the rock ledge.  We could easily imagine the Fisher searching for prey among the many ledges, holes, and crevices along this sandstone outcrop.
 We have had a stretch of mild, mid-January weather that allowed this sandy soil to thaw.  This allowed us to see these tracks in the sand, but it also quickly melted the ones in the snow.
Fisher tracks in sand
The carnivore's tracks were just around the corner from a porcupine den.
porcupine den
Here my son is peering into the porcupine's den.
porcupine den
 Porcupine dens are very messy.
porcupine den
 This den was occupied... as you can see from the ball of quills in the back of the den
porcupine in den
The Fisher didn't get this porcupine... yet... oh, we expect he'll be back.  Besides, there seems to be plenty of squirrels and other animals utilizing the rock ledges as well.
Fisher footprint
    Near the rock ledges the fisher also explored windfalls and snags.  Here in this photo my son is looking at some tracks that approach the tree stump from the left.  Those tracks looked older than the ones leaving the tree on the right.  We surmise that the Fisher may have spent some time resting up there on the top of the snag.   For all we know, the fisher may have fled with our approach.
Why don't we leave the Fisher here for now?  I'll post more about tracking the Fisher through the woods in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. I had to go Google "Fisher" as in my head I was visualizing Wolverine. Fishers look more like mink to me. Is that a closer relative.

    I wanted to see if we have them here in Nova Scotia and came across this from our Ministry of Natural Resources web site:

    "In Nova Scotia, 12 ranch-raised fishers were released into the Tobeatic Game Sanctuary in 1947 and 1948. In a second re-introduction from 1963 - 1966, 92 wild fishers from Maine were released into the eastern mainland portion of the province. Both introductions were successful. But although fishers can be found scattered throughout mainland Nova Scotia, populations remain low."

    As in your neck of the woods, they had left the scene 100 years ago here due to changing habitat and unregulated trapping. They are now protected.