Saturday, September 30, 2023


Guess the creature: Have you seen this animal in the wild?

Can you identify this animal? Here’s a hint: it lives in a very popular national park. Okay, so that doesn’t help. Then we’ll tell you the name of the park: Yosemite.

Still don’t know? Okay, then we will tell you: it’s a Fisher.

Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are an elusive, carnivorous mammal in the weasel family (think minks, ferrets and wolverines). They are about the size of a domestic cat with thick, shiny dark-brown to light-blond fur.

So why haven’t you seen one? Well, not many people have. The animals are nocturnal, so they’re out roaming around when we humans are snoozing back in the campground. And they are very shy to begin with.

For years, fisher populations have had a tough time. They were once commonly found throughout the Sierra Nevada and boreal forests across the United States. Alas, their pelts were coveted, and the fur trapping industry of the 1800s did a good job of transforming the little living-breathing fellows into fur coats.

Fishers took another hit with habitat loss due to intensive logging and development, and still face a major threat from large-scale forest fires. Due to these challenges, the southern Sierra Nevada fisher population segment was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2020. Today there are many research projects in place that study the biology of fishers and monitor their movement.

But even with efforts to maintain and increase population size, fishers remain a fast-moving, elusive species that lives a solitary lifestyle except when breeding. So don’t feel bad if you haven’t seen one. Fishers have eluded even rangers who have worked at Yosemite for many years.

Much of this article and the photo is courtesy of the National Park Service.


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Tommy Molnar
27 days ago

“There the only animal that can flip a porcupine on its back and kill it.”

That’s interesting Bob. Thanks.

27 days ago

Have them here in South Jersey. Saw one loping across my back yard when it triggered a security light a couple of months ago.

Bob M
27 days ago

The Pa game commission released them in Pa’s forest. I’ve seen one while hunting, had some kind of small animal in it’s mouth. They are dangerous to dogs and cats. So keep an eye on your pets. They’re the only animal that can flip a porcupine on its back and kill it.

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