BOBCAT & FISHER STUDY
In cooperation with the Black Rock Forest Consortium as part of a proposed research project studying connectivity of forests across the landscape in the Hudson Highlands, the West Point Natural Resources Branch is seeking any information from West Point hunters related to bobcat and fisher sightings.
MESSAGE FROM BLACK ROCK: " We, at Black Rock Forest, are conducting a fisher and bobcat ecology and conservation project. A portion of this project includes capturing and affixing GPS-enabled tracking collars to healthy fishers and bobcats. The above picture shows are a recovered Bobcat with one of our GPS tracking collars. It is very possible that some of these animals will spend time south of Black Rock Forest and in West Point properties.
We would appreciate reports of sightings of both fishers or bobcats, alive or dead, especially sightings of these two species with our collars. If a collared individual is captured, please do not release it without contacting us (Black Rock) first. We may be interested in downloading data from their collar or re-fitting a new collar to the animal. Please contact Scott LaPoint with sightings, information or questions: 845-534-4517 or firstname.lastname@example.org"
A fisher (Pekania pennanti, formerly Martes pennanti), pictured above, is sometimes called the fisher cat but it is actually a mid-sized mammal belonging to the Family Mustelidae - the weasel family. Its closest cousins in the area include the ermine (aka the stoat or short-tailed weasel), the long-tailed weasel, the mink, the North American river otter, and to the north - the American marten.
Growing up to three to four feet in length from head to tail and weighing up to twelve pounds - the fisher is second in size only to the North American river otter among mustelids in this area. Those dimensions apply to the largest adult males. Female fisher are considerably smaller, topping out at only about half the weight of males and are, at their longest, a foot shorter than males.
One would expect an animal called a "fisher" to prey on aquatic animals like amphibians, turtles, and of course fish. But again, the fisher's name is decieving. A fisher's diet consists primarily of terrestrial animals, namely squirrels, rabbits, turkey, and wild cats. Throughout most of their range their primary prey are snowshoe hare and - believe it or not - pocurpine.
Yes you read that right - porcupine. Fisher are one of the few predators agile enough to prey on porcupine without being harmed. Pictured below, you will see a museum taxidermy mount of a fisher preying on a porcupine.
Fishers are known for their athletic hunting abilities. Despite their long body shape and relatively short legs, the fisher is a predator extraordinaire. It hunts as well on the ground as well as it does in trees, capable of both running down rabbits at top speed in the open as well as chasing squirrels and smaller rodents quickly up and around trees and through branches and fallen logs.
The native range of the fisher stretches from southern Alaska and the Yukon in Canada, down through the Pacific Northwest south along the West Coast of the United States on the western end of its range. Meanwhile its range stretches east across Canada and south into Montana, Minnesota, and Michigan and then throughout the Northerastern U.S. from New York to Maine on the eastern end of its range.
In New York State specifically, the fisher was once relatively common. However extensive trapping of it for its fur drove it to local extinction in much of the southern New York by the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, the fisher had completely disappeared from even the Catskill Mountains. In the 1980s and 1990s researchers reintroduced the fisher to parts of the Catskills.
Since then, some of those fisher and their descendants have moved south back into the Hudson Highlands. In recent years fisher sign and tracks have reappeared and fisher are are once more being spotted by people in the woods or along roadsides. A better idea of fisher presence on the landscape can help us better understand both fisher and the state of our forests.
SO HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The West Point Natural Resource Branch office is looking for any information on bobcat and/or fisher sightings. If you have seen any out in the field in person or on a game camera or a road kill, please email the West Point Natural Resource Branch Office with the following information:
1. Date and Time of Sighting
2. Location of Sighting (Training Area or description )
3. Description of what was the animal doing
If you have any pictures of the animal please send them along as well attached to the email, with "FISHER" in the email subject heading to: