Beware the Fisher Cat

August, 2009 by Steve Frank

Something evil is lurking in the woods of Connecticut these days, something ancient and almost forgotten.

You can hide your children and lock up your pets, but even then all may be lost. For there is no stopping the fisher cat!

Okay, so maybe they aren't all that bad, but it is true that the fisher cat is back in full force in Connecticut.

The fisher is neither a fish, a fisher, or a cat. It is a relative of the North American marten. From the Wiki.

Adults weigh between 2 to 7 kilograms (4–15 lb) and are between 65 to 125 centimeters (26–49 in) in length. Males are about twice the size of females, with the smallest females having been recorded being as small as 1.4 kilograms (3.1 lb), hardly larger than most other martens, and males at as much as 9 kilograms (20 lb), by far the largest size recorded for the genus. Their coats are darkish brown, with a black tail and legs; some individuals have a cream-colored patch on the chest. All four feet have five toes with retractable claws. Because they can rotate their hind paws 180 degrees, they can grasp limbs and climb down trees head first.

A circular patch of hair on the central pad of their hind paws marks plantar glands that give off a distinctive odor, which is believed to be used for communication during reproduction. Fishers are also known for one of their calls, which is often said to sound like a child screaming, and can be mistaken for someone in dire need of help.

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Their numbers drastically declined about a hundred years ago in Connecticut as they were hunted for their brown to black furs.

The fisher cat gets a bad rap because they seem to just love the taste of cats, and when a domestic cat goes missing within a hundred miles of a fisher sighting, it seems the fisher is always to blame.

The really "damned" scary part of the fisher is the reports of their screams while making sweet fisher cat love. I was recently told it sounded "exactly like a women being murdered." After taking a step back and wondering how this person knew exactly what a women being murdered sounded like, I went to YouTube to check it out for myself. If indeed this is a fisher cat then it does sounds a bit creepy. I could see how the fisher could be mistaken for an unearthly tormented specter wandering the woods late at night. However it should be noted the there is no proof that these screams are coming from a fisher. For all we know it could be a rabbit being eaten by a fox, or a chipmunk being savaged by a chupacabra.

(If you have been keeping up on your weird CT news, you will know the fisher isn't the only mammal being accused of murder when romance is in the air: (Passionate Screams Mistaken, Assault Ensues))

You can read more about the fisher cat and it growing numbers in Connecticut in this article from the Hartford Advocate.

Comments

Submitted by Anthony (not verified) on

I don't understand that if people are afraid for the safety of their cats why don't people keep their cats inside? Why do people let their cats outdoors anyway? I grew up in the Bronx, and respectable and considerate folks in my neighborhhood kepot their cats indoors. A Fisher is a wild animal that eats other animals. Keep your cats inside. I find more chipmunks, snakes and birds ripped up in my yard from cat attcks than from Fisher attacks. People are so dangerous and stupid letting their pets ruin the community.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on

I had one of these creatures wake me up a 2am the other night. Freaking creapy!! It was right outside my br window making the weirdest noises, and loud, too! Hand went right on the shotgun until I knew what was going on.

Submitted by Karen (not verified) on

In the city, I can see why you keep your cats indoors - traffic, other cats, etc. To declaw them, the vet removes each toe up to the first joint. I prefer not to have my cat suffer that indignity. He is also helpful outside in keeping down the red squirrel population - they can chew their way into most houses and then live in the attic. I have had that experience - before cat. They chewed up the wiring and raised their young above my living room - wetting down the sheet rock and disrupting the insulation.

Today, a fisher walked across my back yard, under the deck, and when I went out onto the deck he trotted about 25' away, turned and watched me. They have no fear. They will also attack small dogs and have completely decimated the rabbit population in our town - and probably the surrounding towns. Raptors - hawks, owls, eagles - depend on having a source of food which includes mice, rabbits, chipmunks, etc. To my knowledge, fishers have no natural enemies. I, among many, would like to see open season on them.

Submitted by mary beth (not verified) on

I believe the animal pictured above is actually a mink, a semi-aquatic relative of the fisher. A mink is smaller, usually about several pounds in weight. Since there is nothing in the photo for scale, it is hard to say mink for sure, but the suggestion of a whitish throat patch on the animal pictured is highly suggestive of mink.

Fisher "screaming" is most probably a product of urban legend. Biologists who have studied both wild and captive fishers for many years have never heard them scream. They are generally quiet, occasionally hissing or growling. The recordings you listen to on the internet are merely assumed to made by fisher. I don't believe there has ever been a credible report of a person actually seeing a fisher scream. Check out the work of Roger Powell who studied fishers for years, and wrote a book entitiled "The Fisher: Life History, Ecology, and Behavior".

Many other animals make loud vocalizations that could be described as screaming. Some owl species do, as well as mating bobcats and house cats. Foxes make a variety of loud vocalizations, some more like a bark, and others more like a scream. Rabbits scream when caught by a predator.

Submitted by JO (not verified) on

Fishers do scream and make noises like someone is being murdered. I have watched them many time as they are making these noises.

Submitted by Paul (not verified) on

I've got news for you...its no urban legend that the fisher screams.....I myself have a pet fisher that was raised from a kit......if it gets scared or startled......it screams like a woman being attacked.....its scarey and ear piercing.....they DO in fact scream.

Submitted by Carl Majeskey (not verified) on

Hi: I live in Haverhill, Mass. in a condo next to the woods and see a fisher a few times a year. It comes to my bird feeder and digs around for food. I suspect he is looking for chipmunks, as there are plenty of them. Well he measures about 36" from nose to tail, and goes up and down the trees like a monkey. The fur is dark brown and nice and shiny. In talking with a friend today, he mentioned he got a photo from a trapper friend in Palmer, Mass. who sent him a picture of a large fisher he caught in a box trap. He said the animal weighed in at 46 lbs. This size animal would have no problems taking down a deer. I will contact him and try to get a copy of the picture and more info on the trapper. I used to trap muscrats and caught an otter once. He weighed in at about 18 lbs., and I had a pet raccoon that weighed 28 lbs. so I know what a 46 lb. animal would look like. I will get back and report when I get more information. Thanks. Carl

Submitted by mary beth (not verified) on

Very interesting, Carl. A weight of 46 lbs is extremely hard to believe, but my motto is, "never say never"! I hope you post follow-up information even if that claim of 46 lbs is incorrect, because, unfortunately, even unsubstantiated statements can contribute to popular belief and public perception.

Aside from your report, the largest fisher on record weighed 20 lbs, 2 oz, trapped in Maine. I am a tracker and have tracked fishers many, many times, in various parts of central Massachusetts. If any of them were close to 46 lbs, their tracks should be at least double the size of those recorded for fishers of the typical weight range of 5-15 lbs. If anything, the track sizes I have been seeing have been on the smaller end of the spectrum.

Fishers are capable hunters, for sure. They have been seen feeding on deer carcasses, but they are most likely scavenging, because they have not been reported to actually take down healthy, adult deers.

I was looking out across my back yard 3 wks ago and saw this strange animal that looked seal like and when it walked it moved like a slinky. We have 5 acres but live in a fairly busy area only 10 min from NH my husband was a witness to this thank goodness or he would have thought I was having a Lucy moment. We have Maltise's and we will be very careful about their potty routines.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on

Karen, I don't mean to attack you but I want to turn around your opinion on this fisher issue.

- Fishers are tree hunters and one of the only things fast enough to catch red squirrels. In many places they specialize on red squirrels and porcupines. In contrast, I'm guessing your cat is way too slow and being a ground hunter can only catch about one red squirrel a year.

- Red squirrels are extremely territorial and there is generally only one or two per acre. Keeping the population of red squirrels down really isn't an issue in a typical yard, where your cat roams, because there's a population of one or two. On the other hand, fishers hunt red squirrels all through the forest, roaming far and wide.

- Fishers do fear humans and dogs. Sure, they can get a little cheeky when you are on the deck looking at them, but if you approach they usually run for it (unless rabid, of course). I tried hunting one down with my camera last Fall and he was having absolutely none of it -- ran like the dickens.

- How do you know that fishers have decimated your rabbit population? If you have fishers you surely have coyotes, red and gray foxes, and probably even mink if there's water nearby.

- The conventional wisdom that fishers attack small dogs and cats is often repeated, but there is not a lot of hard evidence supporting this. Try Googling it. People's cats disappear and they blame fishers based on their reputation. Could just as easily be a coyote, which is absolutely documented to go after house pets when food is scarce.

- Very few raptors around here are big enough to go after rabbits. Even red tail hawks mostly end up getting songbirds and the occasional gray squirrel who wasn't paying attention.

Do you really want to see "open season" on a member of our native wildlife who was almost hunted to extinction? I think this is just your emotional reaction to fearing for your cat's safety, which is completely understandable. Unless you live in a very dense suburban or city environment, there are dangers to your cat beyond fishers -- the scapegoats. Having an outdoor cat is a risk. My neighbors have a great compromise -- they let their cats out in the afternoon, and the cats are back before dusk for their dinner.

Submitted by pete b (not verified) on

"Fisher “screaming” is most probably a product of urban legend" Not really. We just had one putting on a 20 minute "aria" one lot over from us, and it is just as advertised: almost human sounding distressed screeching or screaming. 10:30pm in the middle of mating season. Right on time from what I know about them.

Submitted by cson johnson (not verified) on

if i was worried about the safety of my domestic pets, i would keep them indoors. rather than encourage the trapping/killing of wildlife that has been in the area long before humans.

you may not know this but a fisher is one of the only known predators to the porcupine. take them away and it will really mess up the ecosystem.

Submitted by ken (not verified) on

I want to know if it is dangous to let my little dogs out on the deck. It is closed in I live in a condo. They love lay in the sun

Submitted by Mikaela (not verified) on

Anyone who thinks they don't scream, they do. Twice a night a fisher cat screams in my cousins backyard. A rabbit isn't being murdered everynight let alone twice every night. My cousins dog started barking then we heard the fisher scream. Doesn't help that we were outside her house in tents.

Submitted by Janine (not verified) on

I saw a fisher cat this morning hopping across the enterence to the Merritt. I wasn't sure what it was since I had never seen one. It looks like a large black weasel, sleek and pretty. I also thought it odd since it was daylight, aren't they nocturnal, I guess it was late getting home from a night of hunting.

Submitted by Carol In Rhode ... (not verified) on

I always knew we had fishers in the Scituate area but never encountered one until yesturday. I have a fenced in yard with two dogs (who were just let in for breakfast thank goodness) and a fisher walked up to my glass slider and looked in. When the dogs began to bark it slowly walked away and climbed out of the yard. I am now so scared to let the dogs out IN THEIR OWN YARD!!! It was 8am in the morning. Should I expect this thing to keep returning???

Submitted by Orillia Ontario (not verified) on

Well, I appear to have a Fisher cat in Orillia, Ontario (1+ hour north of Toronto). I live in a heritage downtown neighbourhood (close to city centre) and had no idea what it might be at first either; then I looked it up on the Internet. I am assuming that's what it is as I've ruled out the other options. When I first saw it, it reminded me of a beaver but the tail was wrong as a beaver's tail is flat and leathery and this mammal's tail is bushy. I thought it might be a porcupine too but it doesn't have the prickly bristles, although the fur is very thick and sticking up like a porcupine's but it is brown like a beaver's, not black. Having never seen badgers either, I thought it might be a badger but the look is all wrong in the neck and this is a solitary mammal - badgers are supposed to live in colonies. I just looked out my kitchen window and it's just resurfaced from underneath my patio deck; I've seen it up and about many times during the day. I'm taking the wait and see attitude as it currently may be serving a useful purpose and is not posing a danger or a bother at present. Interesting. ...

Submitted by Bob in Boston (not verified) on

Biologists continued to be mystified by the reports of "screaming" attributed to fisher cats. There is no documented evidence of this (None other than recordings with no video). Most predatory animals do not scream when attacking (it scares off prey). Animals generally only scream when being attacked (or eaten), or to mark territory. Or mating.

Coyotes are MUCH more likely to go after cats and dogs, especially those above 10 lbs. An 10lb male fisher isn't going to take down a 20lb dog.

They are related to weasels and otters (mustidelae), but generally fall in between, typically 10lbs for males and 5lbs for females. But their long bushy tails can make them appear larger. They are essentially big ferrets, and simply can't get to the 20+lbs levels that are sometimes reported. Wild animals typically don't have the variability in size that occurs in domestic animals. All robins and all deer are roughly the same size. It's extremely rare to find an individual animal more than twice the size of another.

Submitted by ali corcora (not verified) on

I had heard of pleanty of sightings of fisher cats in my area, but hadnt seen one until about an hour ago. i had just gotten my last of 4 children in to bed and sat down on the couch to read, when i heard a loud hissing sound. imedietly following it a creature flew out of no where and hit my window! Andrew, my husbend, heard it as well. We knew it had been a fisher cat trying to get our bird Brownie. i googled them amd heard they kill cats if they find them. Now that i know about them, and what just happend to us, im afraid it might get Brownie and Sunny, our birds, and dont want to let our cat out any more. what do I do!?

Submitted by mary beth (not verified) on

If you see and hear a fisher screaming and get a recording of audio with video, please contact wildlife officials, as they will be most interested. Again, scientists who have studied fishers for years, both in the wild and in captivity, have NEVER known them to scream. Until someone can provide proof that they do, we can only assume that claims of fisher screaming are nothing more than urban legend.

Many other creatures scream at night: mating bobcats, mating house cats, rabbits (when frightened or attacked by predators), foxes, and owls. Both coyotes and raccoons also make a variety of vocalizations; some people may interpret them as "screaming".

For an excellent book authored by a man who studied fishers and other members of the weasel family for many years, see the following:
http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Life-History-Ecology-Behavior/dp/0816622663...

Submitted by Todd Horstkotte (not verified) on

I live in Hillsborough NH and in the past two months I have heard 4 different Fisher Cat attacks around my house (within 100'). There are missing cats (my neighbor's pets). One of the attacks I heard outside my window at 3:30am and woke me up. At 6:00am I went out to find a pile of fur and blood. That was Elaine's cat (could tell by the color of the fur). Another morning I was out having my morning cigarette in the shop at 5:30am and I heard the attack on the other side of the yard. It lasted about 8 seconds (like they most do). I went over there after getting protection and found a pile of fur. Another attack was obviously on a Turkey, those are obvious. And the one I heard five minutes ago left a pile of orange fur and so I will tell Amy tomorrow her cat is gone. This thing loves my neighborhood and my yard even more. My cat sees it all the time at night... she chases it from window to window all night. My 100lb German Shepherd smells it all over the place. I might have to hunt this thing down. I want the squirrels back.

Submitted by Kelly (not verified) on

I recently moved to the waterbury/cheshire line in CT. In the 6 weeks that I have lived here I've heard this fisher cat "scream" twice in the woods behind our house, and let me tell you it IS a scream. Once it was so loud that I had to get up and shut all the windows, and it was still loud. I have not actually seen the fisher cat (and I don't want to), but after lots of researching, the noise had to be a fisher cat. Unfortunately, my cat has gone missing and I'm pretty sure he's not coming back. Before moving here I had no idea that such an animal even existed. A word of advise, keep your pets inside.

My 39 year old son was sitting outside his apt last week & a fisher cat came out of nowhere jumped on his arm bit him bad!! Went to emergency room the doctor scrubed the hole (good size) started rabbie shots & booster. This fisher cat was on the apt roof which my son did not see or hear.T his happened In Chester CT.Where my son & daughter In Law live there are all familys with children.Then the next day my son went out to check around In late morning there were two fisher cats In the tree.Now I heard from different people that the Fisher Cats are put In the wood to kill the wild Animals, the fisher cats can take down a deer,wild turkeys,ect,e t. I am looking Into this matter.

Submitted by Susanne (not verified) on

Regarding Comment 16 July 31, 2010 I also live in Orillia, Ontario and since moving back to this area In May, 2010 3 of my cats have disappeared without a trace. Just prior to the latest incident last week, I heard what I thought was a cat fight. Although I searched, I never saw hide nor hair of my cat again. My internet search revealed that fisher cats can sound very similar to domestic cats fighting. I feel a fisher cat attack is the only reasonable explanation for the disappearance of my three cats.

Submitted by Debra (not verified) on

I lived in Thompson CT and Fisher Cats defitinely scream. The neighborhood cats went missing we found just a round ball of his fur in a circular outline?? It was weird. I loved that cat. another friend in Thompson, CT when outside and saw a baby fisher and thought it was cute and went to go near it and it hissed and showed its teeth, she then got in her car apparently just in time as the mother came out of now where and attacked the car and was hanging on the window, she backed up and then stepped on brakes to get it off of her car. The CT Audobon Society said they are extremely vicious to humans. Now I am afraid to take walks in the woods and I think if they are in the neighbor hood they should be hunted down and killed for the saftey of the children and adults in the area. What if it had been a child that went near the baby? That mother would have certainly killed a small child it was in such a frenzy. I think they are extremely dangerous.

Submitted by Chris (not verified) on

Woke up last night to that sound everyone here knows all too well...the "scream" of the fisher. I could track the circular route it was taking around my neighborhood, and incidently did make sure my cats were all inside. I am in Chester, very near the village itself, and we have a large pack of coyotes here as well, which I would definitely blame for any missing cats rather than the fisher, especially during Chester Fair time, because I think the coyotes hang around the fairgrounds during the off-season. Fishers are just not built to run down a fast land animal, they run like weasels, or like I saw someone above mention, a seal.....in a tree, now that's another story. Just found out that they "scream" during mating season, so there must be a couple in the vicinity.
To Donna regarding your son in Chester, I honestly don't believe any wild animal would have attacked like you said without having been startled or sick...I hope your son is ok.

Submitted by Coralee (not verified) on

I was just woken up at 3:30am by that exact same scream everyone's describing. Probably one of the scariest screams I've ever heard. I was sure some animal was being murdered in my yard and it is extremely disturbing. Several cats have also recently gone missing in my neighborhood. All of our stories sound the same and we all live in different parts of New England. There is definitely some type of animal on the rampage out there! Such a disturbing scream. I have never heard anything like it before.

Submitted by Sandy of North ... (not verified) on

November 2, 2010 I had gotten home from working election. I had my cat out on my deck and stepped into my kitchen and was talking to him while I put a few things away and was going back out to get him and I heard a terrible scream from him and ran out onto the deck and he was gone. I could hear a terrible screaming noise coming from a wooded area behind my home and then silence. It was an awful sound that I can't get out of my mind and my pet is gone. I am sorry but these Fisher Cats are out of control in our area and a something needs to be done. They are vicious killers.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on

Mary Beth, I'm in agreement with you RE: What an interesting and amazing animal the Fisher is, however I dont care what the Wild life boilogists say. I have personally seen and heard a Fisher Scream on quite a few occasions. I saw a very large Fisher chase a huge Raccoon off of my neighbors trash barrel at about 2:00 AM screaming like a banshee. Scary stuff. A 40 pound Raccoon took off like he was shot out of a cannon when confronted by a large tom Fisher. "And it was the FISHER doing the screaming/crying. A large Tom Fisher is in a class of it's own as far as it's tenacity. Second only to his big cousin the Wolverine. While Coon hunting a few years back My friend's dog treed a Fisher after a long chase. The Dog, a 95 pound Blue Tick Coon Hound is among the most ferocious dogs alive. We did not know what We were chasing until We cought up to it after about an hour. By then the Fisher had had enough and was ready for a fight. Lost his sense of humor. While we were down below discussing our find He decided to make a fight of it and came down the tree so fast we thought He fell. He was 30 feet up and made that in about one second. He went for My friend Jerry who had no time to think. He fell backward half concerned about the status of his shotgun and that the muzzzle did not end up passing by any two legged companions or his dog who was fixated on the Fisher. The Dog intercepted the Fisher and IT WAS ON!!! All we could do was watch as Jerry's Dog had his underside kicked open, His insides coming out, had half His nose bitten off, one ear bitten off, and His throat ripped open all the way to his jugular vein. Fortunatly the vein was not damaged. The Fisher got his hooks in the dogs neck from under so his impressive choppers were at the dogs throat while his huge rear claws ripped the dog's gut open. After what seemed like a lifetime the Dog got his choppers on the Fishers head and ended it. The Vet wanted to put the Dog down when we finally got him proper care. Jerry said after a fight like that we're going to give Him a chance and paid the $1500.00 vet bill. The Dog lived. Fortunatly. 300 stitches. Some of them to reattatch half his nose, many to sew his insides back in. A year later almost to the day He chased down another one. Only this time We didn't hang around long enough to revisit just how unfriendly a pissed off Fisher can Be. Also, the animal that almost killed Jerry's dog weighed in at 26 pounds. So that throws the 20 pound thing right out the window. I've seen a couple of others just as big if not bigger. And oh yeh, That animal was screaming like a hundred cats on fire, and making other ungodly noises. Made Me want to jump in bed and pull the covers over My head!! I'm of the opinion that a big tom will prey on cats, small dogs, ect... A Woman in Hamilton Ma. had her Jack Russel Terrier torn right off the leash and devoured in front of her by an audatious over grown tom Fisher. That occured along the hedgrow at the Myopia Hunt Club about ten years ago. A Woman in Boxford Ma. had her leg ripped open by a Fisher just passing by At eight in the morning. I personally had the crap scared out of Me on another occasion when one was raiding the squirrel nest in the attic of my delapitated garage. It came out on the roof and made a scream like a cat on fire and a baby crying and a turkey cackling all at the same time. He came right down to the edge of the roof and faced Me off. He made it clear He was not afraid of Me and would be more than happy to shred Me. I had a gun in My hand and I was still terrified. I ran in the house and didn't come out after dark for a month. He was out ther every night for a couple of weeks making all sorts of frieghtning sounds. Fisher vocalisations run the gamut. They make sounds like a injured rabbit. They make bird sounds. They make turkey sounds. They do a near perfect angry grey squirral. They make cat sounds. It's part of their hunting stragety. They lure in other animals who come to investigate the sounds. My cat fell for the old grey squirrel trick. I saw the Fisher make the squirrel sound, so there is no debate about their vocalisations as far as I'm concerned. Occasionally they loudly throw all the different sounds together and the result is that terrifying banshee from hell sound. Where I live there is at the very least a moderate concentration of Fishers, and Coyotes, also Foxes. When a cat goes missing and there is no evedence of Fisher attack it was more likely a Coyote. Studies have shown when examining contents of Fisher stomachs very seldom is there cat remains. And some of that can be attributed to eating road kill. A small or female Fisher is probably not going to go out of it's way to try to kill a cat. However there is that certain percentage of larger specimines over 16-20 lbs. maybe 5-10% who will make it their business to at least try to make dinner of any cat they come accross. Two things I've learned is, when feeling set upon they will fight to the death. Also what I learned from the Squirrels in the garage incedent is dont interupt their dinner. They will defend their meal very agressivly. Occasionally a big one will make a meal of your dog weather your on the other end of the leash or not. Also some of the more mature animals are vantriloquists of sorts. I wittnessed this Myself. He made a sound of an angry or injured Grey Squirrel and lured My Coon Cat Scout right in. Upon realizing Scout was a huge very healthy cat at about 22 pounds the fisher which was not a particularly large specimine came about half way down the tree and assesed the situation. When it noticed our whole family advancing to him or her it beat a hasty retreat. Last summer a small Fisher was hanging around with my other cat. I was calling tha cats in At about elevin oclock. My other coon cat Harley came trotting home with what I thought was his brother Scout right on his tail. As it turned out the other animal was evedently his new friend. Before Harley got to the front stairs the Fisher took a swipe at his back legs and tripped him up. They rolled around play fighting for a minute when I yelled for the cat to get in the house. "Coon Cats are like dogs in that regard. They respond to commands". When Harley got up and headed for the stairs the Fisher followed him right to the bottom stair, looked at me with no fear, but with some curiosity then took a hard left and went up the tree in My neighbors front yard. It probably weighed in at all of seven pounds. I was scratching My head over that one for a while. Usually these Cats are petrified of anything that looks like a Weasel. They both got their asses handed to them by a Mink that couldn't have gone more than a pound and a half. He kicked the crap out of both of them at the same time. They tag teamed him and it wasn't even a fair fight. They needed ten more cats. They came home looking back over their shoulders looking like they saw the devil himself. So just immagine the damage a large Fisher could do. It's a Mink X 20. The one Jerrys dog killed had some of the most impressive teeth I've ever seen. And claws that were nothing like a cats. Like inch long fish hook Eagle talons. Huge hooked claws. Thats why the Dog couldn't shake him. Once those hooks are in, there is no getting him off till he's dead. Jerry's dog got lucky. Mind you this was a very big tough tough mean mean dog. This Fisher at 26 lbs wasn't even showing any grey at his tips yet so he was in his prime. By the way we were going to leave him once we saw what he was. We just didn't realize how angry he was. It was a learning experience for sure. Not for the dumb ass dog!! Sorry for the protracted letter. I just had a lot to say about these animals. FYI, Fisher vocalisations are not an urban legend. Some day you will hear one. You'll know exactly what it is when you hear it. My guess is they do not say much most of the time. But when they do they DO..TTYL, Regards, JIm...

Submitted by Wildlife Rehabber (not verified) on

Something needs to be done about cats disappearing, yes, Sandy - KEEP YOUR CATS INSIDE. If you didn't let your cat out, you'd have your pet. Fishers are wild animals that are beneficial to the ecosystem; cats are invasive species that do horrible damage to the songbird population. Lol.

Submitted by mary beth (not verified) on

Yeah, those fishercats truly are Satan in disguise. My best friend's cousin's boyfriend's barber's plumber's mother's friend says that in his town those monsters have taken to eating animals as large as horses and cows. You can find their rotting limbs hanging from trees. The whole town has been devastated. No one leaves the house anymore without being fully armed, and you can't let your kids out at all. The screaming never stops.

LOL. Learn to live with wildlife, people. Fisher "screaming" is nothing but urban legend. Yes, they can kill cats and small dogs, and if you cannot cope with losing a pet, THEN DO NOT LET IT OUT UNSUPERVISED. Do you really want to kill off any native predator that scares you? Keep at it, and there will be nothing left. Should that really be of concern to humans? Answer: you bet. No wildlife means ecosystem collapse. Ecosystem collapse means destruction of our own species.

Did you know that 21% of the world's mammals are endangered? And, FYI, 30% of amphibians, 12% of birds, 28% of reptiles, 38% of freshwater fish, and 70% of the world's plants....are all endangered. Please get a grip and learn to tolerate other species. It's our only hope.

Submitted by mary beth (not verified) on

A large male fisher will likely be terrified of a larger dog, but might take a very small dog or cat. That said, there are cases of even cats chasing off a fisher. Small pets should not be allowed out unsupervised if losing them will be devastating. If you allow them to wander, remember that they are probably killing small prey themselves, competing with wild predators like the fisher for food. Seeing it in that light might help you see that fishers are not cruel and vicious -- rather, they are an important part of the food web, just trying to survive.

If your kids are toddlers, they could possibly be at risk to a large fisher or other wild animal, but then again it's not a good idea to let toddlers play unattended anyway, since they could fall victim to the most dangerous of all predators: humans.

Older children should be fine playing in your yard. Use common sense and keep your eyes peeled. Please don't panic. Perhaps you and your kids could take interest in this amazing creature and learn something from it. Learn its tracks in the snow. Photograph it. Read about it, and its relatives, the otter, mink, and weasel. Expand your circle of compassion to include all of nature, even predators.

Hope that helps.

Submitted by Hailey Sanger (not verified) on

I have a fisher cat lurking our backyard and I don't n
know what to do.
My kids and Pets are very active (along with me) and always go outside..............Should I keep them in???

If I used to be worried concerning the security of my domestic pets, I'd keep them indoors. Instead of encourage the trapping/killing of wildlife that has been within the space long before humans.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on

We're all animals Dave. Humans are just smarter. I encourage hunting and trapping about as much as I promote veganism. My protracted post was Just articulating some stories from the past regarding these interesting animals. FYI, The hunters and fishermen contribute more to the health and upkeep of the wild lands, wet lands, forest, ect... and the organisms that live there than all other so called enviromentalists groups combined!!

Submitted by ShinyAeon (not verified) on

I don't live in the area in question, so take my remarks with a grain of salt...but I can see both sides of this issue. I think humans should be more tolerant toward wildlife, and I'm in favor of keeping cats indoors in general, but it's hard to hear about a cat who was only out on *its own backyard deck* being taken without having an immediate "that beast's too dangerous to live" reaction. The vicious attack on the dog was horrible to read, too, especially with my own big, goofy lab mix lying beside me.

There must be a middle ground to tread here. I don't have a problem (philosophically) with killing animals that intrude on my home - after all (as my roommate says) "Most animals will kill YOU if you come into THEIR home." I think fisher cats (or any really aggressive animal) that ventures into an actual backyard (that is, the part of the yard the owner bothers to mow the grass in) should be "discouraged" in one way or another - if loud noise or a water hose fails to drive an animal off your territory, then more serious measures (from trapping to firearms) might be needed.

I'm a fairly bleeding-heart liberal and a nature-loving person, but I don't think it does a native species any harm to have the boldest individuals (bold enough to hunt prey on backyard decks) culled from the gene pool. Respecting other species means refusing to commit genocide for our own convenience (like we used to); it doesn't have to mean ignoring an active threat to those we love on our (literal) doorstep.

We ARE the biggest animal around - teaching wildlife to respect us, and OUR territory, is only fair. It's behaving as though we are PART of Nature, not loftily hovering above it - and isn't that the most respectful approach of all?

January 23, 2011 outside my house, my motion lights went on, so I got up to see what caused it and there in my back yard was a fishercat. I ran in the other room to tell my friend to look out the window, because what I was describing he would not believe and there he was sitting. He was brown and furrie and had a long tail and a face like a cat, but a long body like a ferret. We were in awe. I had heard one 9 years ago when I moved here but didn't realize the screech was a fishercat, but I will never forget that cry and I am sure it was a fishercat. I live on a fresh water pond, considered a lock. Iam sure he's been here for awhile I just never got to see him before.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on

Hi Barbara, My two daughters saw one about a week ago while driving on our street. About four houses down from ours. crossing the road. They said it was about three feet long not counting the tail. Next day I went looking for tracks in fresh snow. I found two seperate sets. One smaller animal and one big one. Obviously the one they saw. I followed the larger set for about a half mile to a large old pine tree that had broken in half about fifteen feet up. I could see where it had hollowed out over the last few years. I do believe he lives in there, at least for now. I've been back a couple of times since. and he is still active in the area. I bring my camera hopeing to get some pics. The tracks are interesting in themselves. I can see where he stopped to investigate nooks and crannies around the upturned roots of wind fallen trees. I took pics of all the tracks he made. There was a spot where he sat down for a minute probably to scope the area for some unwitting squirrel. Two perfect front paw prints and two perfect rear prints pulled up close to eachother. Sitting like a cat sits. Last month there was a Turkey killed in my yard. I think I found the culprit. We have tons of turkeys up here. He ate everything but the feet and some feathers. I wish I could post these pics of tracks. They have pretty big feet for thier size. If you have some wildlife areas near you go check out tracks in the snow. It's amazing how many animals are out there. Along with the fisher tracks I found lots of different Coyote tracks, Mink, Lots of Deer, Fox, Turkey of course, all in the same choke point where the woods narrow between two neighborhoods that abutt about a thousand acres of conservation land. It's going to snow again this week and I will head out for more pics of tracks and hopefully an encounter. Thinking about getting a motion triggered game camera and setting it up where the highest concentration of tracks are. Oh Yeh, The first time I heard the Fisher banshee scream I was afraid to go out at night for a month. There is someone on this post that insists that they do not vocalize. My message is, You'll know when you hear it. It's that unique, and scary.

Submitted by Solo (not verified) on

LOL.

The pic is a mink, not a fisher.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on

Hey Guys, First, Let you'r cats out!! Where they belong. The Fishers probably wont eat them. Sometimes it may happen, but not too often. I'm sure Fishers would much rather eat prey animals. Cats a formidable themselves. Someone on this site said "cats are slow" indicating the most highly evolved preditors on the planet are not proficient hunters. Is there some new species of cat I'm not familiar with. Fishers large enough to make an easy meal of a cat or small dog are probably few and far between. Second, The Fisher population has probably peaked. There is a hunting season for them and they suffer atrition due to automobiles. I've seen four dead this spring on the road. Two were females with young, so the pups wont make it without the mother, also they are prayed upon by other animals and Raptors when they are young. They are not immune to the rigors of the wild like some on this site seem to think. Maybe one in three survive to adulthood give or take. Last, These are facinating and complex animals. Very illusive, smart, and unpredictable. I've studied them for years and still cannot figure them out. From the first time I saw and HEARD one back in 93 when I lived in Peabody Ma. I've been facinated with them. In that time I have figured a few things out. Like they mimic the sounds of other animals, like cats, squirrels, turkeys, rabbits, ect... It's My belief that they do this to attract the curious. Whatever animal comes to see what the noise is may end up as dinner. They are very active in the spring, mating rearing young, and agressivly hunting to support those activities. They are formidable preditors but it's My belief they do not go out of thier way kill outside of thier natural prey selection. There are documented exceptions, but it's not too common, so you'r cat is most likely safe. Although the one in the new picture posted here would probably be just as happy eating little Kitty snacks as squirrels. That's one tough looking animal. Fifteen pounds + for sure. If I saw that in My yard I would let the cats stay in for a couple of days just to be on the safe side.

Submitted by jason (not verified) on

ARE YOU CRAZY? Telling people to let their cats out? NEVER _ EVER _ EVER let your cats outside !! Between the coyotes cars and these evil creatures- they DON"T STAND A CHANCE ! Would you let your CHILDREN stay out all night long with these viscous killers? THEY KILL DOGS AND CATS WITH A VENGEANCE !!

IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR PETS AT ALL......... ALWAYS KEEP THEM INSIDE AT ALL TIMES !!

THEY ARE YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS !!!

KEEP THEM INSIDE !!! FISHER CATS ARE DEADLY AND VISCOUS ! They kill hundreds of pets and even attacked a 6 yr old BOY.

YOU ARE NOT TOO BRIGHT !! STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO LET THEIR CATS OUTSIDE !!

Submitted by Vince (not verified) on

You are right! The pic is a mink (usually less than 2lbs).

Mink, fisher ... they're all furry and have pointy teeth, right? Seriously, thanks guys! We fixed the picture ...

Submitted by Emma (not verified) on

I have a dog and cat at home. My mom and I have seen the fisher cat multiple times and we live in CT right near the woods too! Weird thing is, my cat ran toward it the other day and it was not explainable! But my cat is perfectly fine....

Submitted by lex (not verified) on

Here's a correction to all the questions about a fishers scream, yes they do scream and a horrible chilling sound unless u know what it is.last night I was out about 10pm w my dogs when I hear what sounds like a child being tore apart,I got chills and took my dogs into the woods towards the noise,my mastiff stopped and let out a bark and growl like no other and this thing ran. It was killing a domestic cat.sadly it was gone by the time I got there.but that haunted me all night.
Thank god for big dogs I tell u.

Submitted by Jacob (not verified) on

I think alot of the people commenting on this need to step back and think about the way nature works. I can't imagine why anyone would want to see "open season" on these animals. I live in upstate ny, im and avid hiker and love to follow fisher tracks and look for dens and such. I have a few fishers in my area that i know of and have never had a problem with cats turning up missing and even if so its called the cycle of life. We all need to step back and enjoy the miracle of nature instead of trying to change it.

Submitted by Joerge (not verified) on

My friend told me about the killer fishers and i was really scare will in the woods when i was young

Submitted by shawnee danner (not verified) on

we have a gentle man in our condo complex that likes to tell fishercat stories.he says one lives in our back yard. i've never seen or heard it, but he said it was in the yard and its teeth were drippeng!! lol, with what i dont know. has any one else ever heard of this or seen it?

Submitted by melissa (not verified) on

Last night we heard the exact scream that is recorded as a fishercat on YouTube. It was pitch dark and it was walking from yard to yard. We could see a shadowed image walking right down the middle of our street. It screamed over and over until it walked out of hearing range. This was 1:30 AM. At 3:30 am it came back up the street screaming again. Scariest sound I have ever heard from an animal.

Yup, they do kinda scream. I was hiking in Nehantic SF, following an old stone wall and must have been tromping on ones turf; it tracked along next to me a good distance away, hissing / screaming at intervals. Really freaky.

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