CAMDEN — The closest most people will come to encountering a fisher is hearing that blood-curdling scream in the middle of the night as if someone is getting murdered. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Coastal Mountain Land Trust gave the public a chance to see a recently deceased fisher up close.
“This fisher was found in Appleton by my next door neighbor near the Mill Pond this past Monday,” said Jackie Stratton, Stewardship Project Manager. “It was lying near a fallen branch that had a lot of cavities in it. Likely, it fell from a tree. It’s odd because they are excellent climbers. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to show the public what a fisher looks like because they are such elusive animals and most people have never seen one, let alone had the chance to touch one.”
Dozens of people, many with young children, arrived between 3 and 4 p.m.to examine at the frozen fisher. It was so intact, it almost looked taxidermied, the size of a small dog, with paws almost like a dog’s. Yet, its fur was surprisingly soft, like a cat’s. It had five paws pads, very sharp claws and a long tail.
“It’s been less scary for the kids to touch it than the adults,” said Stratton. “Some people think it looks like a dog; some think it looks like a cat. They’re sometimes even called fisher cats, even though they are members of the weasel family, not the feline family.” Here’s what they look like alive.
The fisher (Pekania pennanti) is a small, carnivorous mammal native to North America. According to Defenders of Wildlife, “Fishers prefer large areas of dense mature coniferous or mixed forest and are solitary animals. They are mainly nocturnal, but may be active during the day. They travel many miles along ridges in search of prey, seeking shelter in hollow trees, logs, rock crevices, and dens of other animals.”
The impromptu display also included a frozen wild turkey lying next to the fisher — an unfortunate result of roadkill. “We also found this turkey in Appleton last Saturday and it’s in great shape,” she said. “We see turkeys on the roadsides and woods all of the time, but you rarely get to see how beautiful and iridescent colors of its feathers are up close.” This turkey was male, as evidenced by the spurs on its feet and a scraggly beard.
“Like a lot of animals, turkeys like salt, so that’s why you’ll often see them congregated by road sides,” said Stratton.
Once show and tell ended, the fisher and turkey were slated to be put back into the woods where nature would dispose of them organically. “It might be eaten by the raven, hawk and bobcat, or even other fishers,” she said. The other option Stratton was considering was to tan the fisher’s hide and keep the skull for educational purposes. “As for the turkey, I’ll take some of its feathers and make some jewelry, but I’ll leave it out in the woods for other animals to consume. Then, I’ll put out a game camera to see what becomes of it,” she said.
For more information about Coastal Mountains Land Trust visit:coastalmountains.org/
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org